The world has just begun to recognize the existence of global warming, yet the recognition of human effect on oceans is yet to be established. Most of the ocean still remains unexplored, but those areas explored are experiencing detriments.
Once described as a floating city, cruise ships are one of the many culprits responsible for the harsh damages inflicted upon the oceans. Cruise ships view the ocean as their personal garbage bin, disposing hazardous chemicals, sewage, and more right into the oceans. The issue of contamination is directly linked to the disposal of waste, harmful emissions and spills, regulations implemented on cruise ships, and further actions are needed to regulate pollution.
Cruise ships disposal of waste into the oceans has a grave affect on ocean life. Cruise ships can transport around 3,000 people and these people generate about 30,000 gallons of human waste water and produce seven tons of garbage and solid waste every day. Graywater, the water that comes from dirty dishes, showers, bath tubs and sewage lines, can be legally released into the oceans along with untreated sewage as long as its three miles away from the coast line. When sewage is released into the oceans it is concentrated and detrimental to marine life as well as humans. The diseases introduced from human feces are absorbed by small marine life such as shellfish a common decadence among seafood lovers, making them unsafe for human consumption. The nitrogen and phosphorous released from sewage, creates excessive algal growth, consuming more oxygen within the water and causing fatality in many fish. These nutrients also can cause a loss of diversity among the plants that live on the sea floor; this can affect the food web within the ocean. The state of the oceans and such cases are rarely considered an issue among the money motivated cruise line owners. The impacts of solid waste items such as; glass, cans, food waste, cardboard, wood, paper, and plastic generated from cruise ships also cause problems for sea and land organism. Plastic, for example can cause fatality from animal ingestion or entanglement. “The coast guard estimates that more than one million birds and 100,000 marine mammals die each year from eating or getting entangled in plastic debris.” (1) Besides waste, cruise ships also generate other byproducts that negatively affect the ocean ecosystem.
Exhaust emissions as well as oil spills from cruise ships play a major role in destroying the ocean as well as the atmosphere. Cruise ships produce a large amount of air pollution. “seagoing vessels are responsible for an estimated 14 percent of emissions of nitrogen from fossil fuels and 16 percent of the emissions of sulfur from petroleum uses into the atmosphere. By 2010 up to 40% or air pollution over land could come from ships.” (1) That is almost half of all the fossil fuel emissions released into the atmosphere, a static that says something about the use of cruise ships for pure entertainment. Another detrimental issue that is quite common among ships are oil spills. Though oil spills are some what rare their effects are devastating. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), an ingredient associated with crude oil, is very hard to clean up not to mention lethal to ocean animals. In one instant a ship dumped a large amount of oil in the Alaskan oceans, killing 30,000 seabirds, 1,000 sea otters, and an unknown amount of fish. With this type of damage effecting the oceans everyday regulations needed to be implemented right away.
Though regulations have been set up through multiple acts prescribed by the government, each one has hidden glitches. When it comes to dumping sewage, cruise ships still have the right to dump anywhere in the oceans except for near Alaska. Under the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and the Marine Plastic Pollution Research and Control Act, cruise ships are not allowed to emit plastic waste within 25 miles of shore, quite a glitch. Hazardous waste is also exempt from dumping by the Resource and Conservation and Recovery Act, yet there are no public records to prove of the correct disposal. In the case of oil pollution, the Oil Pollution Act supposedly prohibits the dumping of oily waste, yet beyond 12 miles this law does not apply. Though many environmental groups and lobbyist are attempting to control the hazardous effects of cruise ships, the government obviously does not feel the need to implement strict laws to help save the oceans and the acts currently intact are not enough.
As the oceans continue to experience loss of species, bleached coral reefs, and disruption within the gentle ways in which ecosystems exist, new efforts must be employed. By creating Acts that truly implement laws and regulations and have clear data and facts that must be monitored to ensure that cruise ships abide these laws it can help reduce ocean pollution. By having the Coast Guard make unexpected checks on the cruise ships it will help to make sure they do not pollute. In the case of gray water it is legal to dump gray water anywhere within the oceans yet the definition of gray water is extremely vague. By introducing a solid definition for gray water, it could help regulate its disposal. Though some environmental groups are attempting to help the damage that has already been done. As in the case with the German ship oil spill.
Though efforts have been made to regulate the damages that cruise ships have so wrongfully placed upon the oceans. It is extremely hard to regulate and monitor the actions of cruise ships because of their mobility. This is an issue that has a tremendous effect on the environment from large oil spills to huge amounts of air pollution the effects are both visible and hidden. The third world war is already in progress and this time its man vs nature. Man seems to be fighting the exact thing that brings, food, oxygen, land, and purely existence. What does it take for people to see the war at hand? Will it be too late?