Munching on the Cruise Ship
By Gregory Vickrey
July 21, 2006
There was quite a bit of vitriol and misinformation dished out
at a recent Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce luncheon as well as
other venues local and statewide regarding Ballot Measure #2
- the Cruise Ship Ballot Initiative - and I d like to serve up
some rational morsels for all voters to chew on in kind.
Here are a few tasty facts:
The purpose of the initiative is to adopt certain and measurable
protections for Alaska waters and fisheries resources and to
establish taxes that will work to offset the industry's impacts
on Alaskan communities.
Ballot Measure #2 was written by Alaskans, and over 23,000 Alaskans
signed a petition in support of the initiative.
Ballot Measure #2 will establish a state-wide $50 head tax on
the nearly 1 million passengers coming to Alaska on cruise ships.
Federal law requires the money be spent to service the industry.
Ballot Measure #2 requires cruise lines to pay the same percentage
of gambling profits to the state for charities and taxes as required
of all other gaming industries.
Ballot Measure #2 requires cruise ships to obtain a discharge
permit from the State and meet ALL Alaska Water Quality Standards,
as required of all other dischargers.
Current law fails to regulate
most pollutants from cruise ships, even though every major cruise
ship line has been convicted on multiple felony charges for dumping,
falsifying records, and lying to government officials. Some examples:
in 2004, Holland America pled guilty to discharging 25,000 gallons
of sewage into Juneau Harbor and was ordered to pay a $200,000
fine, pay $500,000 in restitution, and spend $1.3 million to
improve the ship s handling of wastes; in 1999, Royal Caribbean
pled guilty in six jurisdictions to charges of systematically
dumping oil-contaminated waste, discharging wastewater, and making
false statements to the Coast Guard. Royal Caribbean was fined
$18 million. And 16 documented times between October 2002 and
2003 the industry violated an agreement with the state of Hawaii
with incidents of dumping sewage and graywater into the Humpback
Whale National Marine Sanctuary.
Ballot Measure #2 will use $4 of the head tax to place an independent,
certified, marine engineer aboard every ship while in Alaskan
waters to observe the waste treatment practices and system maintenance
procedures, verify logbook entries, and sample ship discharges.
Time for dessert.
A $50 tax for an average cruise ship tourist works out to less
that $10 a day; in return, Alaskans gain water quality protections
from an industry woefully inadequate or unwilling to take care
of our finest resource; honest disclosure of vendor relationships
with the cruise ship industry; and a safer, balanced economic
playing field for industries that impact our quality of life.
No matter your hunger for this issue, I encourage you to savor
the facts and read the initiative itself. While it may be more
enjoyable to devour emotionally driven opinions of some of this
city's finest, the delicacy of rational thought is often best
Ketchikan, AK - USA
About: "While Gregory
Vickrey is a staffer with the Tongass Conservation Society, the
delicious facts and opinions in this piece are his own and are
not in any way meant to represent the viewpoints of one of the
finest organizations in Ketchikan, TCS. Gregory resides in Ketchikan
with his two pups, Truman and Nixon. He also votes religiously."
Opponents of "Cruise Tax"
Say Alaska's Economy Is Under Attack; Alaska Cruise Ship Initiative
Slated for August Primary Ballot By
DICK KAUFFMAN - Voters will soon be deciding whether the state
should start taxing cruise ships and tighten regulations on these
gargantuan vessels that are the lifeblood of Alaska's tourism
industry. A sweeping petition targeting the cruise ship industry
met the required 23,286 signatures to make it on the ballot and
will go before voters in the August 22 statewide primary. - More...
July 12, 2006
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