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Fwd: ML: The Sludge Boats : Sailing the Dirty Seas

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  • Potter at Island Resources
    [Message from the Marine Life e-mail list on the impacts of (and negotiating tactics for) the cruise industry in British Columbia. best bruce potter] ... --
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 10, 2002
      [Message from the Marine Life e-mail list on the impacts of (and
      negotiating tactics for) the cruise industry in British Columbia.


      bruce potter]

      >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@...>
      >Cc: anh@...
      >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
      >Howard Breen
      >For environmentally responsible tourism -- sometimes you rock the boat.
      >[omitted image]
      >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
      >Alisa Gordaneer
      >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.
      >You’d 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 weren’t 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, they’d be trespassing. You could call the
      >cops. But if nobody caught them, what then?
      >It’s the double bind of living in a city that’s a permanent tourist
      >attraction. We don’t 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 we’re likely to rely on them even more
      >now in the Campbell Era), but we don’t 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 heaven’s sake, stop, they replied that they’d 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, you’d probably say. Who’s making money by
      >putting me on display? And more importantly, where’s 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 you’d be missing the main target
      >if you didn’t 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, it’s an allegory. But in a province already poised to sell out
      >to corporations, it’s 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 life’s) gardens are
      >already getting tromped.
      >Speaking of invading, stomping on stuff and making one hell of a
      >noise, happy International Women’s Day. Anh Hoang’s story about the
      >nasty effects government cuts are having on many women in this
      >province is on page 4. And then, once you’re good and riled up about
      >that, turn to John Threlfall’s 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
      >[omitted image]
      >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,
      >isn’t it?
      >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. They’ll pump millions of
      >dollars into Victoria’s 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 they’ll 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
      >first place.
      >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 don’t 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
      >Victoria’s most precious resource, its drinking water, by filling
      >their reservoirs while emptying out ours. The cruise ship season,
      >which coincides with the region’s 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 year’s 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 Princess’s 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 Norwegian—all of
      >which make regular trips to Victoria—have 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 haven’t 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 can’t dump sewage in Washington’s
      >waters and it can’t 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 Caribbean’s new Voyager of the Seas
      >has a capacity of 5,000 passengers. That all adds up to a lot of
      >dirty water.
      >And yet there is no eagerness on Canada’s 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 you’re 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
      >them away.
      >That’s 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
      >Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park. An autopsy found that the
      >whale’s 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
      >since 1979.
      >The negative impact of cruise ship noise on marine life is another concern.
      >When he’s out diving, Erin Bradley can tell when ships are docking
      >at Ogden Point. It’s 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 doesn’t notice any significant
      >changes in the behaviour of the marine life when ship noises
      >approach, but doesn’t 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, they’re likely more impacted by the noise of the cruise
      >ship engines.
      >But that’s 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.
      >“It’s only an opinion, but there’s 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, it’s 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
      >doesn’t 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 Columbia’s coastal waters are home to several species of
      >whales, and to thousands of marine mammals not found anywhere else.
      >The world’s greatest variety of sea stars is found in the Inside
      >Passage, along with over 3,800 species of invertebrates—3.5 percent
      >of the world’s total.
      >But lobbying for stricter regulations to protect this fragile
      >ecosystem is not the favoured route of the Oceans Blue Foundation.
      >Tracy London, Oceans Blue’s 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 world’s 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 they’re on cruises, she says. “When
      >they come to Vancouver, they say how beautiful it is. The reason
      >they’re going to places like Alaska is because it is so beautiful.
      >But if that’s going to be affected, people will not want to go there
      >anymore.” M
      >Anh Hoang , Staff Writer <mailto:anh@...>anh@...

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