Q & A


Recycling is among one of the many ways cruise ships are reducing their environmental impact. Pictured is compressed aluminium aboard a ship.





Q: How have EPA low sulfer regulations affected the Alaska cruise industry?

A: The cruise industry has invested hundreds of millions of dollars, and most ships that call this year will have the new technology installed.

Q: What other environmental issues affect the Alaska cruise industry?
A resolution of the Alaska Travel Industry Association (ATIA) recommends no rules or regulations are adopted in regard to viewing Alaska harbor seals until further science is made available

“WHEREAS, wildlife viewing is a significant and popular activity among Alaska visitors and residents; and

WHEREAS, the Alaska visitor industry, which comprises a variety of tourism business owners and vessel operators, has and continues to implement and participate in responsible wildlife viewing practices and vessel operations;

WHEREAS, Alaska’s visitor industry members have long worked in the marine environment and have operated with respect and care for wildlife and habitats and have adhered to existing guidelines, permits, regulations and other rules; and

WHEREAS, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) and request for comments regarding Alaska Harbor Seals and are seeking comments on whether or not regulations are needed to protect harbor seals from the effects of vessel activity in glacial habitats; and

WHEREAS, new regulations could have a substantial impact on the many tourism businesses operating across the state; and

WHEREAS, additional restrictions should be carefully considered and pursued with the support of sound science;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alaska Travel Industry Association Board of Directors recommends no rules or regulations are adopted in regard to viewing Alaska harbor seals until further science is made available for public comment.

Signed this 1st day of May, 2013”

Q: What is meant by “end-of-the-pipe” effluent limits for cruise ships? How do these limits differ from land-based, wastewater-treatment facilities?

A: Unlike land-based, municipal sewage-treatment and industrial facilities (i.e., mining, seafood processing, oil exploration/production, etc.), large cruise ships were prohibited under a 2007 law from using a “mixing zone,” the area where treated wastewater mixes with a body of water. They must instead meet all Alaska Water Quality Standards at the point of discharge.

The Legislature has since changed this requirement following the recommendation of the state’s Science Advisory Panel.

Q: What is the status of the wastewater discharge general permit?

A: In 2010, the ADEC issued a new three-year permit. “This permit implements the compromise legislation passed in 2009. It provides a very high degree of protection of our waters while taking into account the economic and other practical constraints faced by the industry,” ADEC Water Division Director Lynn Kent said. “No one will see or measure an adverse impact on water quality or aquatic life as long as the ships comply with the permit. At the same time, we are confident ships can comply.”