Cruise Ship Rider Threatens Death Sentence for Glacier Bay Wildlife

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   October 15, 2001
Contact:   Kevin Collins, National Parks Conservation Association, 202-454-3392
Chip Dennerlein, National Parks Conservation Association, 907-277-6722


Cruise Ship Rider Threatens Death Sentence for Glacier Bay Wildlife

Washington, D.C. - "A provision added to the final FY 2002 Interior Appropriations bill at the request of the cruise ship industry could be a death sentence for whales and other wildlife in Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park. Sponsored by Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, the amendment overturns two federal court decisions and allows more cruise ships to use Glacier Bay without an adequate analysis of the impact on the park's wildlife, water quality, and other resources.

"This is an outrageous disregard for the judicial process, the health of the park, and basic common sense. Decisions about the environmental impact of cruise ships should be made before more ships are allowed to enter the park, not after. In August, a federal court ordered the number of cruise ships allowed to enter the park to be reduced from 139 to 107, the pre-1996 level. Also in August, a 37-year-old pregnant endangered humpback whale was struck and killed by a cruise ship. A criminal investigation is under way. The Stevens provision ignores the court rulings and the threat to the park's wildlife and locks in place the higher number of cruise ships for at least two years."

In 1996, the National Park Service decided without preparing an environmental impact statement to dramatically increase the number of cruise ships allowed to use the park. NPCA successfully challenged that decision in court. Aside from collisions with marine mammals, cruise ships bring with them the risk of oil spills, increased air pollution, and disturbance of wildlife. Cruise companies in Alaska recently have been guilty of illegally dumping sewage, plastics, toxic chemicals, and oil as well as falsifying records to conceal violations.

"One whale was already killed by a cruise ship this year. How many more deaths will it take to demonstrate the need for a thorough evaluation of the risks associated with cruise ships?"

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