Tim Eichenberg of Oceana joined California Assemblymembers John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), and George Nakano (D-Torrance) today at a press conference to urge passage of three bills (AB121, 906 and 471) to stop cruise ship pollution off the coast of California and to reduce air pollution created by cruise ships. The bills must be reported out of the Senate Appropriations Committee by August 28, and must be approved by the Senate and signed by the Governor by October 12.
“Oceana strongly supports legislation to ban cruise ship dumping in California waters, and we call upon the members of the Senate Appropriations Committee to report these bills to the Senate floor for immediate passage.” said Tim Eichenberg, Oceana's senior policy analyst from San Francisco. “Without this legislation, California is at the mercy of ineffective and unenforceable industry waste management practices.”
The wastes generated by cruise ships are equivalent to a small city, but the industry is exempt from many Clean Water Act requirements that apply to municipalities and industries that generate wastes. Cruise ships are not required to monitor or report wastes discharged into ocean waters, and have paid more than $40 million in fines and penalties for violating federal environmental laws since 1999. Moreover, the cruise industry has been unwilling to upgrade onboard sewage treatment systems outside of Alaska, where stricter standards apply.
Oceana spent months negotiating with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines to install advanced sewage treatment systems on it's fleet of 26 ships and to agree to independent, third-party monitoring and testing, but the company refused. These systems could be installed fleet-wide on Royal Caribbean ships within five years for only the cost of a can of cola per passenger per year.
“Sewage contaminates shellfish and swimming beaches, destroys coral reefs, and contributes to dead zones and algal blooms,” said Eichenberg. “Because federal law has failed to rein in the cruise ship industry, it is only prudent for California to protect its beaches, marine life and coastal communities from cruise ship dumping.”
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. Oceana, headquartered in Washington, D.C., has additional offices in key U.S. coastal areas and a South American office in Santiago, Chile, and will open a European office in September 2003. For more information, please visit www.Oceana.org .