Why cruise ships need observers

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, March 26, 2007

While negotiating with the cruise ship industry over delinquent head taxes, the people of Yakutat discovered that cruise ships were discharging sewage from the 480,000 passengers and crew that visit each year into our bay.

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Our beaches are where our residents gather clams, kelp, mussels and a multitude of other subsistence foods, so you can imagine our concern. In addition to subsistence, Yakutat Bay is the home of our gill net and troll fisheries. After extensive negotiations, the industry reluctantly agreed to stop dumping, but there is no way to determine if it's living up to the agreement.

During negotiations, we were assured we would be notified immediately of any environmental mishaps. A week after our meeting, a cruise ship struck a reef at the head of our bay, putting a 120-foot crease and a 10-foot hole in its hull, dumping whatever was in its ballast tanks. Yakutat was not notified of the mishap promptly as promised a week earlier. The ship went aground at the head of our bay and continued on to Seward, a distance of more than 300 miles, with a 10-foot hole in its hull.

An observer would ensure that ships are not dumping illegally and environmental mishaps are reported.

Dave Stone



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