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Glacier Bay monitoring finds cruise ships in environmental compliance

Article-Glacier Bay monitoring finds cruise ships in environmental compliance

Glacier Bay has some of the most stringent environmental protections for any area where cruise ships operate. Here, a Holland America Line ship
Twenty-nine inspections of 13 cruise ships during the 2022 Alaska season found they were in compliance with environmental regulations in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.

'The results of the surprise inspections demonstrate that cruise ships are in compliance with applicable laws, regulations and contract obligations,' said Tom Schaff, deputy superintendent of Glacier Bay National Park. 'These operating conditions represent some of the most stringent environmental protections for any area where cruise ships operate.

'Nearly 700,000 visitors access and enjoy the park aboard large cruise ships each year,' he continued. 'Glacier Bay National Park is committed to managing marine access to minimize environmental impacts from all motor vessels.'

EMCP initiated to fill void from Ocean Ranger suspension

The park intiatiated an Environmental Monitoring and Compliance Program (EMCP) last year. Cruise ships bring more than 95% of all visitors to Glacier Bay and are subject to special environmental operating conditions in their concession contracts, in addition to applicable laws and regulations.

The inspection program was initiated as cruise operations resumed in order to fill the compliance monitoring void left by the suspension and restructuring in 2019 of Alaska's Ocean Ranger program.

'Our hope is that the state’s Ocean Ranger program can ultimately merge with the EMCP to provide rigorous compliance monitoring for ships operating in Glacier Bay. Until that time, the EMCP will likely continue,' Schaff said.

Wastewater management, emissions, marine mammal protection and more

The EMCP is funded by the cruise industry through a contract with the Marine Exchange of Alaska. Experienced inspectors evaluate key aspects of operations using a checklist provided by Glacier Bay managers. Key operating conditions including compliance documentation, wastewater management and discharge, garbage and recycling programs, emissions and marine mammal/wildlife protection programs are evaluated and the results provided to park managers in a Marine Exchange of Alaska trip report.

Ship staff and crew were unaware of when inspections were to occur.

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