It does not bode well for Puget Sound and Washington's coastal waters that the first cruise ship into Seattle's port has already fouled them with more than 16,000 gallons of raw sewage. This is actually not an isolated spill as the industry portrays it. There is no law to prevent ships from dumping raw sewage once they are three miles from shore as the Norwegian cruise ship claims it was. Only voluntary agreements exist, and no one has the responsibility or the authority to make cruise lines follow these agreements.
The International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL), a trade group of which Norwegian is a member, has an environmental policy that supposedly requires all members to hold their treated sewage until they get out four miles from the shore and to hold raw sewage until the ship is twelve miles from shore. This promise is little consolation, and the Norwegian Sun failed to meet even this standard.
Oceana has called on cruise companies to upgrade their fleets to state-of-the-art treatment technology that runs continuously and would alleviate these types of "accidents" but not a single company has agreed to do so. The customers agree according to a recent survey we conducted -- they would like to see state and federal laws passed that require all cruise ships to install state-of-the-art sewage waste treatment facilities. The U.S. Coast Guard does not have the resources or manpower to ensure our oceans are protected from cruise ship dumping but someone needs to take responsibility to ensure cruise ship pollution is stopped. Clearly, allowing the fox to guard the hen house is not serving us well.
Oceana is a non-profit international advocacy organization dedicated to restoring and protecting the world's oceans through policy advocacy, science, law and public education. Founded in 2001, Oceana's constituency includes members and activists from more than 150 countries and territories who are committed to saving the world's marine environment. In 2002, the American Oceans Campaign became part of Oceana's international effort to protect ocean eco-systems, thereby extending our outreach in the United States. Oceana, headquartered in Washington, D.C., has additional offices in key U.S. coastal areas, a South American office in Santiago, Chile, and will open a European office in fall of 2003. For more information, please visit www.Oceana.org.