Cruise Ship Safety Bill Introduced in Congress

o    Government and Industry

o    Transportation

o    Air and Water

Thursday, March 12, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Nick Berning, (202) 222-0748
Marcie Keever, (415) 544-0790 x23

Matsui and Kerry push for safety and accountability

WASHINGTON, D.C—Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) today introduced the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009, which would protect cruise ship passengers against violent crimes, better inform passengers about crime rates aboard cruise ships, and authorize the Coast Guard to dispatch personnel to monitor cruise ship waste discharges.

“Few people realize that if they become the victim of a crime on a cruise ship outside U.S. territorial waters, they may not be protected by the laws that protect them on land,” said Marcie Keever, Clean Vessels Campaign Director of Friends of the Earth. “Indeed, cruise lines aren’t even required to report such incidents to law enforcement authorities.”

Nearly 10 million passengers took cruises from the United States in 2007 and that figure is expected to grow to more than 12 million passengers in 2009.

The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act would require cruise lines to report all deaths, missing individuals, alleged crimes, and complaints regarding theft, sexual harassment, and assault. The bill would also mandate peepholes in stateroom doors as well as security latches. Such safety features are standard in hotels, but do not always exist on cruise ships.

In addition, the bill would authorize the Coast Guard to deploy officers to monitor cruise ship waste discharges. According to the EPA, a single cruise ship can discharge more than 70,000 gallons of human sewage per day per vessel. Cruise ships are currently allowed to discharge raw sewage as close as three nautical miles from shore. This sewage, along with other wastes dumped from cruise ships, can infect fish and shellfish, harm surfers and other water-sport enthusiasts, and kill coral.

“You wouldn’t think that minimal security requirements and environmental protections would require federal legislation,” said Friends of the Earth President Brent Blackwelder. “But many cruise lines have failed to reduce pollution and afford their customers even these minimal protections.”

Friends of the earth US

###

Friends of the Earth (www.foe.org) is the U.S. voice of the world’s largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.