Cruise Ship Kills Endangered Whale in Glacier Bay

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   July 24, 2001
Contact:   Andrea Keller, National Parks Conservation Association, 202-454-3332
Chip Dennerlein, National Parks Conservation Association, 907-229-9761


Cruise Ship Kills Endangered Whale in Glacier Bay

Washington, D.C. - A marine biologist determined yesterday that a cruise ship most likely killed the pregnant humpback whale found dead last week in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, her skull massively fractured and her neck partially severed. The humpback whale is a federally listed endangered species that feeds during summer in Southeast Alaska waters. Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) recently offered an amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill that would increase cruise ship traffic in crucial parts of the humpbacks Alaska range, compounding threats to whales.

"This is a tragedy," said Chip Dennerlein, Alaska Regional Director of the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA). "Increasing cruise ship traffic without careful planning and knowledge of the impacts on park wildlife is dangerous and irresponsible."

Senator Stevens' amendment, offered last week, would allow an increased number of cruise ships into Glacier Bay National Park without including environmental protections and would overturn a February court mandate reducing cruise ship traffic to pre-1996 levels until completion of an environmental impact statement (EIS) on ships in the park. The Stevens amendment effectively raises the level of traffic without initiating protections for humpback whales.

"The Stevens amendment sacrifices park resources and endangered species in favor of an industry that has demonstrated repeated environmental insensitivity and disregard of U.S. pollution laws," said Kevin Collins, NPCA's Acting Director of Government Affairs. An article yesterday in the Anchorage Daily News reported that the Alaska State Republican Party Chairman confirmed that the cruise ship industry has given the party $75,000 in the past month.

Thirteen states recently brought litigation against the cruise ship industry for practices that harmed the marine environment, including criminal violations involving dumping and discharge of human and chemical wastes. The State of Alaska recently launched its own major initiative, including new state legislation, after tests by the Department of Environmental Conservation confirmed that cruise ship visits have caused pollution and other negative impacts on Southeast Alaska's fragile marine ecosystem.

The fiscal year 2002 Interior Appropriations Conference may debate the Glacier Bay rider later this week.

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