US cruise industry lawyer, Jim Walker of Walker and O’Neill, Maritime Lawyers, has been writing on his blog and web site about cruise companies allegedly dumping rubbish in the ocean, an act highly illegal under international legislation.
This week Mr Walker has provide what may appear to be tangible evidence of crew aboard what he claims to be MSC Cruises Magnifica, allegedly dumping rubbish over the side of the vessel at night, allegedly off the coast of Brazil.
Mr Walker posted an article and videos, which were reportedly provided by a former MSC employee, with Mr Walker reporting the article and videos going viral, having been read several hundred thousands of times with over 7,000 Facebook “likes.”
Mr Walker says that he has received many comments from members of the public expressing their disappointment and outrage that this cruise line was allegedly engaged in this type of alleged conduct, but he asks about the reaction from the cruise industry and the maritime authorities?
You can check out the videos here: –
Mr Walker says, “The cruise lines want us to believe that authorities “rigorously” enforce “strict” environmental regulations?”
He then asks, “What’s the reaction from travel agents and travel writers about this breaking news story?, adding, “Let’s take a look”.
He says that the International Maritime Organization (IMO), is the international maritime authority which promulgated the pollution regulations (MARPOL) with which the cruise lines are supposed to comply and as a result, cruise ships can’t dump unprocessed food or other items within three miles of the closest shore.
He adds, “They are supposed to separate, process, grind, crush and/or incinerate the ship’s refuse, paper items and/or garbage and then discharge the garbage at sea at various distances from shore or store the pulverized / incinerated materials for pick up at port after the cruise is over and that plastic is prohibited from being discharged”.
He then asks the question, “But what happens when a cruise line ignores MARPOL?” and answers it with, “Nothing”.
He then comments that The IMO is a United Nations entity, adding, “It’s a ‘feel good” organization, it can’t enforce its own rules and it can’t punish cruise lines when they violate the rules.”
He comments, “Cruise Line International Association (CLIA)is the cruise industry trade association which promotes the image and the interests of the cruise lines, with CLIA reportedly saying that if a cruise line member violates safety or environmental regulations, it will take steps against the member including kicking the cruise line out of the organization”.
But he questions if that will never happen as he claims that CLIA has never criticized, admonished or taken disciplinary action against a cruise line, with Mr Walker’s view of CLIA appearing to be that its sole function is to protect the cruise industry from public scrutiny or criticism.
Mr Walker adds that CLIA has not issued a public statement about the MSC dumping scandal, adding “Don’t expect one either”, going further to say, “ There would have to be a Congressional investigation taking place before CLIA would even acknowledge the issue and it would then spin the story with corporate gobbledygook.”
Mr Walker says that today CLIA’s CEO and former travel-agent Christine Duffy issued a PR statement on CLIA’s behalf applauding the cruise industry’s alleged efforts to create a “pristine environment,” with Ms Duffy reported to have said, “We will continue to forge new paths toward a greener, more sustainable planet . . .” and “will make cruising more environmentally conscious than ever before.”
Mr Walker then takes travel agents, writers, and cruise bloggers to task, saying, “So far not a single travel publication has touched the story”, adding “There are though thousands of tweets and Facebook posts from the usual cruise bloggers (Cruise Hive, Cruise Currents, Cruise Fever, Cruise Critic) and travel writers (Travel Weekly, Travel Pulse) about the best deals on cruises,” “Many hundreds of travel agents are hawking cruises on Twitter,” But no one is mentioning garbage bags in the sea dumped at night.
He says, “That’s bad for the travel agents’ business, and whether the cruise lines are polluting or not, travel agents are selling cruises on the MSC Magnifica right now, “ and “99% of the travel writers and cruise bloggers just want the pollution story to go away.” “They don’t want to embarrass their friends in the cruise industry, because they’re afraid that the cruise lines won’t give them complimentary or heavily discounted cruises if they mention the story.”
He closes saying, “That’s what MSC Cruises and CLIA are counting on,” and “The cruise industry won’t change a bit as long as the 16,000 CLIA travel agents and travel writers remain silent as the oceans are polluted with cruise garbage.”
Well Mr Walker, here is one publication and on line eNews that is running this story and your allegations, because if the ocean is being polluted in the manner in which you allege, that action is destroying the very thing that is the basis of every cruise line’s business and would appear to be tantamount to commercial and environmental suicide.
I travel on ships all the time and go right through the vessel, including the kitchens and service areas and am very aware of the lengths they appear to me to go to separate, process, grind, crush and/or incinerate the ship’s refuse, paper items and/or garbage and then rather than as Mr Walker says, “discharge the garbage at sea at various distances from shore or store the pulverized / incinerated materials for pick up at port after the cruise is over”, I was under the impression that only incinerator dust could be discharged at sea and only in certain locations, with everything else including plastic prohibited from being discharged and kept until the vessel arrived back in port.
I have to say I have never seen a cruise line dump rubbish at sea, but then again I am not awake 24hrs, but when taken on tours of vessels they go to great lengths to explain the waste management system, appearing to me to be very sophisticated and well managed, with most vessels, especially the large ones, having a relatively senior officer responsible for all environmental management and issues.
I may well be wrong, so I would very much like one of the cruise companies to let us know what the rules really are as I could not obtain access to the MARPOL web site.
Also, it would be great if MSC’s CEO Australia and New Zealand, Lynne Clarke would like to comment on Mr Walker’s allegations against the Magnifica – if you think they are untrue or incorrect, please say so!
A report by John Alwyn-Jones Cruise Correspondent.