(ANSA) - Venice, October 11 - Leaders from the world of art and literature spoke out against cruise ships passing through Venice's fragile lagoon in a letter to Italian Premier Mario Monti on Thursday. "We wish to denounce the growing, invasive and uncontrolled presence of enormous cruise liners in the lagoon, even in the immediate vicinity of some extraordinary spaces such as St Mark's Basilica," said the letter. The statement was signed by Nobel laureate in literature Orhan Pamuk, contemporary artist Bill Viola and a host of leading professors from Cambridge, Columbia and other leading universities. "These ships pose serious environmental risks that compromise the conservation the artistic heritage of the city," the statement said. It went on to accuse lawmakers of privileging "the interests of tourism" over scientific evidence that proves the passage of large ships damages the fragile lagoon ecosystem and creates wake that damages the fragile foundations of buildings. A movement to ban cruise ships from passing through Venice gained momentum following the January crash of the Costa Concordia off the Coast of Tuscany, killing 32 in Italy's worst marittime disaster since World War II. Venice's economy is largely fueled by tourism and a large cruise industry. Over 600 cruise ships passed through the lagoon in 2011.