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The cruise ship is back.And it’s a catastrophe for the environment | Kim Hecox

DDecades ago, when I was working as a ranger in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, each cruise ship that entered the bay was carrying hundreds of passengers. Today, they carry thousands. They no longer look like ships. They look like boxes with ships, huge floating milk cartons – heavy and white.

But if they move, they will help. The one that occasionally attacks whales.

In July 2001, a dead humpback whale known as “snow” was found floating in the bay. Investigations concluded that she died of extensive trauma to the skull and cervical spine. This is consistent with a ship collision. Princess Cruises Line (purchased by Carnival in 2003) Acknowledge sin Near the humpback whale, the ship, Dawn Princess, was unable to operate slowly and at a safe speed, violating both the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. Passengers and crew found humpback whales near the ship, but the ship did not change course or speed.

Under a judicial transaction, Princess was sentenced to a $ 200,000 fine and $ 550,000 to the National Park Foundation for “community services.”

Since then, the size of the ship has increased.

Dream before Covid-19 cruise It has announced that it will carry about 10,000 passengers and will build the first cruise ship theme park with the longest roller coaster on the sea. Many ships are three times as large as my ranger era. Being so big, a floating condo that is a sea city and has hospitality staff always wants to sell port of call tourism at the next port of call.

The Majestic Princess, arriving in Alaska in late July, has 19 decks. Please try to imagine. I’m on the water all the time, but never get close to the water.

For several years, the Alaskan jeweled Inside Passage crowned Glacier Bay has been ranked one of the most popular cruising destinations in the world. After 21 months of absence (including the quiet pandemic summer of 2020, when whales in the bay seemed prosperous), several large ships are heading north. By next year, the situation could once again be booming, with thousands of passengers rushing into the cities of Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway every summer day, entering and exiting gift shops and jewelry stores. Some locals welcome the income, others lament and ask the crowd and the noise: what happens? Business as usual? Will you grow forever?Alaska-based pilots aboard these giant ships Express concern Its strong on-beam winds can endanger them in tight navigation areas.

If something changes after the Covid-19 and it doesn’t return to normal, it’s the cruise ships and the greedy industry that operates them. This is an industry that employs communities and makes up a significant proportion of all port of call tourism that buys and sells the entire waterfront, if not private islands (Bahamas and the Caribbean).

In Glacier Bay, passengers are ranger-led with a focus on education and inspiration, as the US National Parks Authority (NPS) requires ships to suspend all competing activities (such as casinos). You can participate in the activities of. The NPS also charges per passenger. This makes the park one of the most solvents in the NPS system, potentially endangering it. The park’s budget now relies heavily on cruise ship money to fund research, salaries and development within the park. Only two boats can enter the park each day, but there is no size limit. Some call this an “industry prisoner of war.” Regulators will look to the industries that are supposed to regulate.

After Holland America ships Wester Dam Accidentally discharged In 2018, 22,500 gallons of gray water flowed into Glacier Bay, and Alaska fined the company $ 17,000. The NPS fined it $ 250.

according to For marine protected areas, reclaimed water drainage “can lead to oxygen depletion, spread pathogens and viruses, and increase nutrient levels in the surrounding ecosystem. Higher nutrient levels are harmful disruptions to the entire food chain. It can lead to toxic flowers and dead zones that can cause the virus. “

Holland America, like Princess, is a subsidiary of Carnival. Glacier Bay, on the other hand, is not only a national park and reserve, but also a UN biosphere reserve and a World Heritage Site. Few places can boast such international recognition. Deserves strict protection and utmost respect.

That’s why we have to change things.

Some of today’s large vessels are registered in the United States and are largely exempt from federal taxes. If they work here, take up space on the pier, burn large amounts of fossil fuels, and dump waste into sanctuaries and other coastal waters, register in the United States, buy carbon offsets, and be environmentally friendly. is needed. Whenever possible, pay federal taxes, comply with laws and high safety standards, and pay high fines if you violate them and if you have not lost your right to sail to places like Glacier Bay. eternally.

It’s time for the federal government to limit the size of ships allowed in US waters. Put more responsibility on them, not more passengers. For those who are already too big, buy them and turn them into dockside homeless shelters, veterans’ care facilities, and marine laboratories. Those who are still serving should be motivated to focus more on education than on entertainment. They need to hire historians, scientists, naturalists and indigenous peoples who have ancient homes where ships sail.

Am I an anti-cruise ship? No. I am over-measurement and promotion.

I love the daily memories of Rangers in Glacier Bay, telling stories and sharing information. Ships allow thousands of people to visit Glacier Bay without having to set foot on the land. They can have a deep experience. “It’s so big and beautiful,” said a woman standing with her on the rails of the ship. Her eyes swallowed a majestic blue ice wall (Shiomizu Glacier) just a quarter mile away. “Thanks to God for our public land,” she added.

Later, a man said to me: “Ranger, these mountains you got here … is it worth anything?”

“They bring the glaciers that make up this bay to life,” I replied. “They are also important to the indigenous Tlingit, whose heritage was born from this place.”

“No, no,” he said. “I’m talking about minerals and mining. I’m talking about real wealth.”

“me too.”

This summer, independent travelers flood Alaska before the big ships return, with some returning to Glacier Bay. There, I found the entire humpback whale skeleton at Bartlett Cove near the park headquarters. Humpback whales, called 45-foot-long snow, are off the ground in an elegant arc as if they were flying. Volunteers, including park staff and school children, donated more than 1,000 hours to clean her 161 bones after much of her body had broken down on the beach. The money paid by the princess in return was then used to build an open-side outdoor pavilion and re-express the snow in a work of art.

Visitors stand in front of her and are often in awe. They read quietly about her life and death and find themselves enriched. Not because they are entertained.

They are educated.

  • Kim Hekox, a former ranger in Glacier Bay National Park, Denali National Park, and Katmai National Park in Alaska, is the author of many books. Part of this opinion piece is an excerpt from his Alaskan memoir, The Only Kayak and Rhythm of the Wild.

The cruise ship is back.And it’s a catastrophe for the environment | Kim Hecox

Source link The cruise ship is back.And it’s a catastrophe for the environment | Kim Hecox

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