Cruise ship pollution regulations needed: prof

Deana Stokes Sullivan
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Report released as province gears up for busiest year

Just as Newfoundland and Labrador is gearing up for its busiest cruise ship season, a report released Thursday takes a critical look at the North American cruise ship industry, calling for more stringent regulations to halt environmental pollution caused by the massive boats.

Getting a Grip on Cruise Ship Pollution was authored by Dr. Ross Klein, a professor at Memorial University's School of Social Work, who is considered an expert on the cruise ship industry. It was released by the U.S.-based environmental group Friends of the Earth.

Just as Newfoundland and Labrador is gearing up for its busiest cruise ship season, a report released Thursday takes a critical look at the North American cruise ship industry, calling for more stringent regulations to halt environmental pollution caused by the massive boats.

Getting a Grip on Cruise Ship Pollution was authored by Dr. Ross Klein, a professor at Memorial University's School of Social Work, who is considered an expert on the cruise ship industry. It was released by the U.S.-based environmental group Friends of the Earth.

Klein researched industry issues including the history of environmental violations, the types of pollution produced and the modest number of environmental laws that govern the industry.

Since 1998, Klein said the cruise industry has been fined more than $60 million for environmental violations.

"The effects are many," he said, "from negatively affecting fish stocks, coral and marine life generally to posing health risks to humans based on the air emissions."

According to Friends of the Earth, an average cruise ship generates 210,000 gallons of human sewage as well as a million gallons of grey water from sinks, baths, showers, laundry and galleys.

Klein said the industry has come out against a Canada/U.S. call for an emission control area that requires ships to use cleaner burning fuels because it would add between $8 and $15 a day to a passenger ticket. Even with this measure, Klein said, the fuel that would be required would still be much dirtier than fuel used in automobiles.

Klein's report was produced in part to provide supportive documentation for the Clean Cruise Ship Act currently before the U.S. Congress. He said he has also been contacted by members of parliament who are interested in addressing the problem in Canada.

In this province, the cruise ship industry is a major contributor to the economy.

Yvonne Power, executive director of Cruise Newfoundland and Labrador, said to date, about 90,000 passenger and crew visits are expected in this province this year and the list of ships planning visits here is still building.

A 2007 study showed the cruise ship industry that year contributed $10.7 million to the province's economy, and since then, Power said she would estimate that figure has grown to more than $11 million annually.

To date, Cruise NL has bookings that show the province will receive 176 port calls, involving 27 cruise ships.

Power said there are 50 ports of call in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"The value to rural Newfoundland and Labrador is amazing," she said.

In 2009, Red Bay, Labrador, for example, hosted 1,200 passengers and more than 400 crew from the Holland American cruise ship Maasdam.

"By the time they sold their shore excursions and attractions and opened their doors and sold their souvenirs, that must have been a considerable value economically to a community of 250 people," Power said.

A list of cruise ships scheduled to visit the province can be found on Cruise NL's website, www.cruisenewfoundlandandlabrador.com/schedule.php.

The download link to Klein's report is www.foe.org/sites/default/files/CruiseShipReport_Klein.pdf.

dss@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Friends of the Earth, North American, School of Social Work Klein's U.S. Congress Cruise Newfoundland and Labrador

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, U.S., Canada Red Bay Holland

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