ROCKLAND – “Our industry as a business needs to be environmentally compliant,” a spokesperson for Cruise Line Industry Association told Rockland residents. “It’s bad for business, quite honestly, to hurt the environment.”
Friday morning, in City Hall Chambers, the spokesperson, Brian Salerno, U.S. Coast Guard retired Vice Admiral and CLIA’s Senior Vice President of Maritime Affairs, briefed community members on how cruise ship industry environmental practices are regulated.
CLIA represents 90 percent of the cruise capacity worldwide, including the ships that visit Rockland. It also represents 10,000 travel agencies and an estimated 30,000 travel agents.
Several audience members, however, were not comforted by Salerno’s statements that U.S. pollution standards far exceed those of international law, or of how destinations want vessels that are respectful of the environment.
CLIA is not an enforcement agency such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Customs of Border Protection, the Animal/Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Center for Disease Control.
It is an association with only the authority to expel members from the organization. Salerno told the audience that no member has been ousted in many years; however, a couple have been given serious ‘heart to heart talks’ in attempts to help rectify the problems.
The mention of ‘heart to heart talks,’ without actual consequence from the Association did not sit well for some.
“Your telling me that they cannot discharge [sludge into the harbor] means nothing,” one audience member said. “They have been found to discharge again and again and again, regardless of what the law is. How do you prevent that?”
Salerno has been an environmental regulator through the Coast Guard as well as an offshore regulator for the Department of the Interior. He was a part of the Deep Water Horizon follow-up, “making sure that didn’t happen again.”
“I wouldn’t have taken this job if I hadn’t felt that there was a commitment by the industry overall to do the right thing,” he said.
“We’re in a different operating environment then we were in 2004. The expectations are much higher. The destinations are more demanding, and quite honestly, if we have the partnership of the destination – people have to want cruise ships to come to their ports. They’ll only want them if they feel like to cruise ships are going to be respectful of the environment. That has become acutely obvious to all of our members.”
After today, the cruise ship dialog will continue, according to Louise MacLellan-Ruf, chair of the Harbor Management Commission. MacLellan-Ruf intends to bring together Rockland stakeholders as well as the American Cruise Line Industry for future discussions.
Pat O’brien, Rockland business owner, referenced how Rockland will welcome ‘this influx of business and tourism,’ and said: “We’re in a really good place because there is a lot of ground that we can understand. And [we can ]manage the impact as we allow more than four in. Maybe it’s six. Maybe it’s eight. But it doesn’t ever have to be 186 like it is in Bar Harbor.”
Reach Sarah Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org