Washington, DC—The Ocean Conservation and Tourism Alliance (OCTA), a joint initiative of Conservation International (CI) and the International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL), convened the first meeting of its independent science panel on March 15, 2004, at the Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention in Miami. The initial focus of the science panel is to provide recommendations to the cruise industry on wastewater management practices.
The science panel will be in a position to provide initial feedback to the cruise industry soon after its upcoming June 2004 meeting and will compile detailed recommendations following its September 2004 meeting. It is understood that this is an iterative process that is being driven by sound science and that the science panel's recommendations will be based wholly on the range and quality of the scientific data available to them. Based upon the complexities of the science panel's final recommendations, the science panel will work with the OCTA advisory committee to determine a timetable for the cruise industry to respond to the suggestions made by the panel.
"We are at a critical juncture where real leadership is needed to demonstrate what is necessary to minimize human impacts on the world's oceans," said Dr. Sylvia Earle, chair of the science panel. "The ICCL and its member cruise lines have taken that leadership position by convening this independent panel to have science guide the decision making for dealing with wastewater management."
The eight-member science panel is chaired by Dr. Sylvia Earle, executive director of Marine Conservation at Conservation International. The science panel includes experts from various geographic locales and scientific disciplines including: Dr. Marlin Atkinson, professor, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology; Dr. Adolphe O. Debrot, research department head, Carmabi Foundation; Dr. Thomas E. Lacher, Jr., executive director, Center for Applied Biodiversity Science, Conservation International; Charles D. McGee, laboratory supervisor Orange County, California Sanitation District; Dr. Ellen Prager, president, Earth2Ocean, Inc.; Dr. Andrew Rogerson, professor and associate dean, Nova Southeastern University; Dr. Jose Galizia Tundisi, president, International Institute of Ecology.
During its first meeting the science panel was presented with material related to the current wastewater management standards of the International Council of Cruise Lines (available at: www.iccl.org/policies/stds-environment.cfm) and details of the current practices of various ICCL member cruise lines with particular attention given to the testing and installation of advance wastewater purification (AWP) systems. In addition, information was provided regarding the research and results of the Alaska Cruise Ship Initiative's Science Advisory Panel which advises the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation on scientific matters related to cruise ship impact on the Alaskan environment and public health (available at: www.state.ak.us/dec/water/cruise_ships/scienceadvisory.htm) .
"The cruise industry's passengers deserve to see the beauty of the oceans and places cruise ships visit for generations to come," said Michael Crye, president, ICCL. "Our member lines will implement what is needed to preserve these places based on sound conservation science. We encourage the input from persons or organizations that will help the independent science panel provide us with recommendations for moving forward."
Over the next few weeks and months the science panel members will be researching additional, pertinent scientific data related to this issue and will be seeking advice from additional experts on relevant topics.
"The ICCL recognizes the need for sound science to assist in its decision making. CI recognizes the need to integrate its science-based approach with business ingenuity to achieve real conservation results. The time is now for us to work together," said Jamie Sweeting, director of Travel and Leisure at Conservation International's Center for Environmental Leadership in Business.
The science panel was formed as part of a joint initiative by CI and ICCL to protect biodiversity in top cruise destinations and promote industry practices that minimize the cruise industry's environmental impact.
The Ocean Conservation and Tourism Alliance sets up four initial priority areas including:
Best Practices for Wastewater Management: improved shipboard technology, specifically accelerating and adopting Advanced Wastewater Purification (AWP) systems.
Establishing Destination Partnerships: working with local governments and communities to maintain high-quality travel experiences by protecting the natural and cultural assets of cruise destinations.
Promoting Environmental Education: raising guest and crew awareness of and support for critical conservation issues.
Promoting Vendor Environmental Education: lessening the environmental impacts of suppliers.
Of the initial areas of work, AWP research and development has been a strong focus for the industry for several years. Combined efforts have resulted in rapid technological advancements and the installation of prototypes on more than 20 ships-at a cost of approximately $50 million. These systems, while capable of meeting high standards for treatment, are still in the early stages of application for general use. The industry is committed to continuing to invest in improved AWP systems, and installing those systems on its ships. CI will work with the industry and system manufacturers to expedite the process.
About the organizations:
ICCL represents the interests of 15 passenger cruise lines that call on major ports in the United States and abroad. Member lines include Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruise Line N.V., Crystal Cruises, Cunard Line Ltd., Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Orient Lines, Princess Cruises, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Seabourn Cruise Line, Silversea Cruises, and Windstar Cruises. These vessels account for approximately 90 percent of the North American cruise line industry.
Conservation International’s Center for Environmental Leadership in Business (CELB) provides a new forum for collaboration between the private sector and the environmental community. Created in partnership with Conservation International (CI) and the Ford Motor Company, CELB operates as a division of CI and is governed by a distinct executive board of leaders from the business and environmental communities-engaging the private sector worldwide in creating solutions to critical global environmental problems in which industry plays a defining role. For further information about CELB, please visit www.celb.org.