Fwd: ML: The Sludge Boats : Sailing the Dirty Seas
- [Message from the Marine Life e-mail list on the impacts of (and
negotiating tactics for) the cruise industry in British Columbia.
>e: Fri, 08 Mar 2002 15:54:28 -0800--
>From: OBF RESEARCH <research@...>
>Subject: ML: The Sludge Boats : Sailing the Dirty Seas
>To: *L Marinelife <marinelife@...>
>Reply-To: OBF RESEARCH <research@...>
>The Sludge Boats : Sailing the Dirty Seas -
>Quite an interesting article (below): The Oceans Blue
>Foundation while trying to open a constructive dialogue with the
>cruise industry we are NOT helping them create "their own"
>standards regime (a confusing misquote) but rather challenge the
>existing industry-crafted & administered ICCL standards opting
>instead for a transparent, multi-stakeholder process. The intent of
>the Oceans Blue Foundation (and many other engos) dialogue with
>industry is to urge industry to adopt a "highest standards"
>eco-certification (which will certainly exceed Canadian and American
>regulations). It's a nice compliment that Anh Hoag upsmarts me to
>"scientist" but it's quite erroneous. On the whole, Anh Hoag's
>article may nudge many British Columbians to perhaps ask a few
>questions about an industry that is quietly growing exponentially on
>the west coast.
>To keep this issue on Monday Magazine's radar you are urged to write
>to the Editor: <mailto:editorial@...>editorial@... or
>Anh Hoag: <mailto:anh@...>anh@... with your own cruise
>For environmentally responsible tourism -- sometimes you rock the boat.
>This week's Monday Magazine
><http://www.monday.com/monday/pickup.htm>Pick up a free copy from a
>yellow box near you
>Issue 10 Vol 28, March 7 - 13, 2001
>Attractions and Infractions
>Imagine having a garden so beautiful, everyone took pictures, which
>they showed their friends, who in turn came and took pictures for
>themselves. And imagine trying to keep that garden nice, especially
>after even more people came to see it, and accidentally dropped
>their film boxes and Evian bottles on your lawn.
>Youd probably tolerate it, for a while. Flattered by their
>attention, you might even allow a tourist or two in to use your
>washroom. But what would you do when another half-dozen knocked
>desperately on your door?
>Now imagine what might happen if you werent home to watch the
>crowd. What would keep them from stepping on your lawn to get a
>better picture of your budding forsythia, or taking cuttings for
>their own gardens? Sure, theyd be trespassing. You could call the
>cops. But if nobody caught them, what then?
>Its the double bind of living in a city thats a permanent tourist
>attraction. We dont all have busloads of tourists doing drive-by
>photo shootings, but we do all live in a town that depends on the
>attention and dollars of the visitors we attract. We want tourist
>bucks for our economy (and were likely to rely on them even more
>now in the Campbell Era), but we dont necessarily want the invasion
>of our peace.
>But now, consider what you would do if thousands of tourists kept
>tromping on your wilting tomatillo patch. And when you asked them to
>please, for heavens sake, stop, they replied that theyd paid good
>money to come. And you looked up to see a fleet of double deckers
>streaming by, bearing placards that read See real, live Victoria
>gardeners! Only $50!
>Now wait a darn minute, youd probably say. Whos making money by
>putting me on display? And more importantly, wheres my share?
>Would you take advantage of your situation, maybe supplement your
>income by selling souvenir compost samples? Or would you turn
>vigilante, raging at the invaders with signs declaring your private
>property? Or would you perhaps ask the city to please create a
>by-law to prevent crowds from tromping your turf 24-7?
>You could do all of the above, but youd be missing the main target
>if you didnt take aim at the companies and corporations running the
>tours. The ones raking in the bucks by taking tourists on bus rides,
>getting rich while wrecking your environment. The ones really to
>blame for your flattened phlox and squished squash.
>Sure, its an allegory. But in a province already poised to sell out
>to corporations, its not all that far-fetched. This week, Anh Hoang
>looks at the very real scenario of the cruise ship industry, which
>brings boatloads of tourists to town, but has few regulations to
>follow when it comes to B.C.s environment. Turn to page 8 to read
>about how the octopuses (and other marine lifes) gardens are
>already getting tromped.
>Speaking of invading, stomping on stuff and making one hell of a
>noise, happy International Womens Day. Anh Hoangs story about the
>nasty effects government cuts are having on many women in this
>province is on page 4. And then, once youre good and riled up about
>that, turn to John Threlfalls story on page 7. There, you can read
>how, despite assorted obstacles, some women in Victoria are really
>starting to rock. M
>Sailing the Dirty Seas
>Love Boat or Honey Wagon?
>Passengers and cruise lines spend over half a billion dollars every
>year in Canada but these dollars depend upon the same natural
>beauty that this unregulated industry threatens
>By ANH HOANG
>The ocean breeze whistles through your hair, the smell of the sea
>tucks you into bed each night. And, sometimes, wastewater flushes
>into the ocean from the ship beneath your feet. A romantic vision,
>This summer, a record number of cruise ships, with fancy names like
>Radiance of the Sea, Universe Explorer and Norwegian Sky, will be
>sailing through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Theyll pump millions of
>dollars into Victorias economy, just a fraction of the half-billion
>dollars they bring to Canada each year. But there is now a growing
>concern about all the pollution theyll be pumping into our waters,
>Between April and October, 113 cruise ships are scheduled to arrive
>at Ogden Point, up from 77 arrivals last year. Local shipping agent,
>King Bros. Ltd., estimates that cruise ship passengers will bring
>$30 million to the local economy, $10 million more than last year.
>But while much of Victoria welcomes the cash poured into the city by
>tourists eager to sit down for afternoon tea, some residents are
>concerned that the sheer numbers of cruise ships docking here are
>starting to sully the very beauty that brings visitors here in the
>Fran Thoburn is not looking forward to the cruise ship season
>starting up. The James Bay senior dreads the ship horns and
>loudspeaker messages that sometimes wake her up at 8 a.m.
>And the thing that I dont like is the increased traffic in the
>neighbourhood, says Thoburn. You have all these buses taking [boat
>passengers] through the city. You can smell the fumes everywhere.
>And while tourism has an economic impact, it also has an
>environmental one. According to the United Nations Environment
>Programme (UNEP), the influx of tourists into a community can lead
>to such problems as soil erosion, increased pollution, discharges
>into the sea, natural habitat loss and increased pressure on
>endangered species. It often puts a strain on water resources, and
>it can force local populations to compete for the use of critical
>That strain was apparent last year when some cruise ships threatened
>Victorias most precious resource, its drinking water, by filling
>their reservoirs while emptying out ours. The cruise ship season,
>which coincides with the regions time of highest water consumption,
>leaves the Capital Region about 400 million gallons drier every
>year. Last year, the ships, which buy the water from Westcan
>Terminals (which in turn buys it from the Capital Regional
>District), were asked to fill up at other ports due to water
>restrictions. This years normal rainfall means ships are expected
>to fill up as usual.
>That Stinkin Love Boat
>Perhaps fuelled by images from the 70s television series The Love
>Boat, people have long thought of cruise ships as floating luxury
>resorts, where travelers drink, swim and play shuffleboard to their
>hearts content. But an increasing number of reports and outspoken
>environmentalists are telling us otherwise. (And to think we were so
>naïve as to be distracted by Gopher and the rest of the Love Boat
>crew up on the Promenade deck, helping couples break up and make up,
>while Captain Stubing was giving the OK to dump the Pacific
>Princess waste out onto the coast of Mazatlan.)
>The Pacific Princesss story may be fiction, but cruise ships
>dumping waste into the ocean is very real. A February, 2000, report
>released by the U.S. General Accounting Office, an investigative arm
>of the U.S. Congress which examines the use of public funds and
>evaluates federal programs and activities, found that, between 1993
>and 1998, cruise ships were involved in 104 confirmed cases of
>dumping waste in U.S waters. Eighteen cruise lines, including
>Princess, Holland, Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegianall of
>which make regular trips to Victoriahave paid more than $30 million
>in fines for this kind of illegal dumping.
>In 1999, Royal Caribbean Cruises pled guilty to 21 felony counts and
>agreed to pay $18 million in fines for illegally dumping oily waste
>water and hazardous wastes in six U.S. jurisdictions, lying to the
>Coast Guard and falsifying waste discharge records.
>There havent been any such convictions of cruise ship dumpings in
>Canadian waters, because neither the provincial or federal
>government have tight regulations to prohibit such activities.
>Canada has no laws to prevent cruise ships from dumping sewage in
>our waters, no government monitoring of discharges, and no
>inspections of onboard treatment systems.
>According to Linda Nowlan, executive director of the West Coast
>Environmental Law Association (WCELA) in Vancouver, a ship that
>sails from Seattle to Alaska cant dump sewage in Washingtons
>waters and it cant dump in Alaskan waters. But it can dump raw
>sewage for most of the thousand kilometers it travels in B.C.
>Nolan is co-author of Cruise Control, a recent report published by
>the WCELA, which concluded that the hundreds of cruise ships, most
>the size of small towns, cruising up and down B.C.s coast annually
>could be leaving a trail of discharge in their wake due to minimal
>controls on pollution. This includes raw sewage, oily waste water
>from ship engines and toxic chemicals from onboard drycleaning
>services, beauty salons and photo processing labs. As well, cruise
>ships emissions can contain such gases as nitrous oxide and sulphur
>oxide, and diesel particulate matter.
>Cruise ships are also responsible for as much as 77 percent of all
>ocean pollution, according to the San Francisco-based Bluewater
>Network, which lobbies against environmental damage from the
>shipping, oil, and motorized recreation industries. The UNEP
>supports this figure, adding that on average, vacationers tend to
>eat and drink more, and passengers on a cruise ship each account for
>three and a half kilograms of garbage daily (compared with less than
>one kilogram daily during their regular life on land). In addition,
>each passenger creates about 100 gallons of wastewater each day.
>The average cruise ship travelling in B.C. waters carries 3,000
>passengers and crew. The Royal Caribbeans new Voyager of the Seas
>has a capacity of 5,000 passengers. That all adds up to a lot of
>And yet there is no eagerness on Canadas part to draft cruise ship
>dumping legislation. Nolan hopes that will change, and recommends
>Canada adopt legislation similar to one recently passed in Alaska.
>Two years ago, the Alaska government implemented a voluntary
>wastewater-sampling program for cruise ships. It found that 79 of 80
>samples failed to meet federal standards, and some had pollutants
>50,000 times the permitted federal level for on-land operations. As
>a result of this, last July Alaska brought in a new law to control
>cruise ship pollution. It sets tough new standards for the cruise
>ship industry, with the strict monitoring and enforcement paid for
>by a special $1-per-passenger levy.
>Watch out for Willy
>One of the wonderful natural sights you might see from the deck of a
>cruise ship is a humpback whale, especially if youre traveling on
>one of the popular B.C. coast routes off the mouth of Juan de Fuca
>Strait, in the Inside Passage of the central coast, and off Langara
>Island at the northern tip of the Queen Charlotte Islands. Some of
>these areas are rich in food sources for the whales, but that
>becomes a moot point when the amount of boat traffic and noise keeps
>Thats perhaps just as well, as whales face an increased risk of
>being run into by boats. In June, 1999, the cruise ship Galaxy
>docked at Vancouver with a 17-metre-long fin whale lodged on its
>bow. Last July, a pregnant humpback whale was found floating near
>Alaskas Glacier Bay National Park. An autopsy found that the
>whales skull was massively fractured, to the extent that one side
>of the neck was separated from the head. The report concluded that
>the whale died of head injuries, probably from a collision with a
>cruise ship. Scientists had been tracking the 37-year-old whale
>The negative impact of cruise ship noise on marine life is another concern.
>When hes out diving, Erin Bradley can tell when ships are docking
>at Ogden Point. Its not a overpowering noise, but he is aware of
>the drone of ship engines nearby. Bradley, the owner of the Ogden
>Point Dive Centre, says cruise ships are relatively quiet by the
>time they dock, but still audible. He doesnt notice any significant
>changes in the behaviour of the marine life when ship noises
>approach, but doesnt rule out that ship noise could be bothersome
>for some animals, particularly those farther offshore, where ship
>noises are much louder.
>Noise travels four times faster in water than in air, says
>Bradley. And since whales have a much more acute sense of hearing
>than humans, theyre likely more impacted by the noise of the cruise
>But thats all speculation, says David Duffus, a geography professor
>at the University of Victoria, who has studied whales for several
>Marine animals are quite sound-oriented, says Duffus. They do
>have very sensitive hearing.
>Humpback whales use their sonar abilities to communicate and to find
>potential mates, and some sea lions also use sonar to communicate
>with each other. Underwater noise pollution could make it harder for
>these animals to find food and communicate. And for grey whales, who
>use sound to find their way, sound pollution could cause them to
>break away from their normal migration routes. But with a lack of
>specific scientific studies on the effect of noise on marine life,
>Duffus can only speculate that the acute hearing of these animals,
>particularly whales, could be negatively impacted by ship noise.
>Its only an opinion, but theres a lot of potential concern there.
>When fish turns bad
>When the Department of Fisheries and Oceans releases warnings of
>high levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP), or red tide on
>the coast of Vancouver Island, its not uncommon for scientists like
>Howard Breen to wonder if the incident correlates with the increased
>number of ships in the area.
>In a response to a DFO red tide warning last year, Breen, a
>researcher for the Vancouver-based Oceans Blue Foundation, said that
>while the cruise industry continues to suggest that dumping sewage
>is only fertilizing the sea and creating food for fish, he
>doesnt rule out the possibility that ships waste water has
>something to do with the red tide warnings.
>Breen has written that Until proven otherwise, the cruise industry
>should be seen as a possible contributory factor for west coast
>toxic blooms, as a potential seafood consumer health risk and yet
>another underlying factor in the decline of wild fish stocks and
>lastly, a growing sewage point source in need of a federally
>consistent coastwide regulatory regime.
>British Columbias coastal waters are home to several species of
>whales, and to thousands of marine mammals not found anywhere else.
>The worlds greatest variety of sea stars is found in the Inside
>Passage, along with over 3,800 species of invertebrates3.5 percent
>of the worlds total.
>But lobbying for stricter regulations to protect this fragile
>ecosystem is not the favoured route of the Oceans Blue Foundation.
>Tracy London, Oceans Blues director of policy and development, says
>the organization works closely with the cruise ship industry to help
>it set up its own environmental standards. The foundation also looks
>at recognizing and rewarding companies that initiate innovative
>measures to decrease their impact on the environment.
>The foundation is presently working with the cruise industry,
>reviewing environmental and social issues resulting from the
>increase of ships in the water, and developing a possible voluntary
>environmental certification process for cruise ships.
>Last week, the foundation recognized Princess Cruise Lines for using
>shore-based power when it docks in Alaska, rather than keeping its
>diesel engines running. The cruise line initiated the change last
>July, converting four of its five Princess ships to plug into the
>shore-based power source for up to 12 hours. This provides
>electricity for on-board activities while reducing smoke emissions
>from the engine.
>London agrees that there is need for stronger federal regulations,
>but until then cruise ships need to work harder on adopting better
>Holland America is one cruise line already looking at better
>environmental practices for its ships. By May, the company says it
>will install a water treatment process aboard five of its ships. The
>system purifies grey and black water to near-drinking water quality.
>The ships will re-use the reclaimed water for such jobs as deck
>wash-downs, laundry rinse water, and engine cooling.
>Last June, members of the Virginia-based International Council of
>Cruise Lines (ICCL), which represents 16 of the worlds largest
>cruise lines, adopted mandatory environmental standards for all of
>their ships. This is the first mandatory agreement of waste
>management practices and procedures of its kind. The Council
>requires that all its member cruise ship operators adopt
>environmentally friendly standards in relation to black and grey
>water and hazardous chemical discharge, or risk losing membership.
>These positive moves are partly due to public pressure, says London.
>Passengers are more aware when theyre on cruises, she says. When
>they come to Vancouver, they say how beautiful it is. The reason
>theyre going to places like Alaska is because it is so beautiful.
>But if thats going to be affected, people will not want to go there
>Anh Hoang , Staff Writer <mailto:anh@...>anh@...
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