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News|19 May, 2009

Cruise ship sewage ban a step in the right direction, says WWF


Today ECC, an organization representing the major cruise companies operating in Europe, in a press release committed to stop dumping their waste water in the Baltic Sea when certain conditions are met. These conditions include “adequate port reception facilities which operate under a ‘no special fee’ agreement”.

“We see this as a step in the right direction”, says Dr. Anita Mäkinen, Head of the Marine Programme at WWF Finland. “The dumping of untreated waste water straight out into the Baltic Sea poses an unnecessary threat to the sensitive nature of the Baltic Sea environment. We are very happy that the cruise companies have recognized this fact and have taken this new decision.”

Today there are only three out of more than 20 cruise ships ports around the Baltic Sea, Helsinki, Stockholm and Visby, that meet ECC’s conditions. The normal sewage storage capacity for a cruise ship is between one and three days. This means in praxis that a lot of sewage will still be dumped in the sea.

“We now call on the cruise lines to work together with us to put pressure on the ports and their owners to establish sufficient port facilities”, says Pauli Merriman, Director of the WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme. “We consider it to be the responsibility of any country or city that wants to receive these cruise ships, to offer adequate sewage reception facilities.”

Already two years ago, WWF took the initiative and contacted ferry lines and cruise ship companies that are sailing in the Baltic Sea, asking for a voluntary ban on waste-water discharge. That same year, most of the ferry lines responded positively, but only three of the international cruise lines signed up.

The Baltic Sea receives more than 350 cruise ship visits with over 2,100 port calls each year. The waste-water produced in these vessels is estimated to contain 113 tons of nitrogen and 38 tons of phosphorus, substances that add to eutrophication of the sea. Until now, most of this sewage has been is discharged into the Baltic Sea. In addition to excess nutrients, the waste water also contains bacteria, viruses and other pathogens, as well as heavy metals.

Eutrophication is considered by many the main environmental problem of the Baltic Sea, causing both biological and economic damage to marine environment and coastal areas. It is caused by an overload of nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, into the ecosystem. Eutrophication causes many problems, including unusually strong and frequent summertime algae blooms such as the toxic cyanobacteria.

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Anita Mäkinen, Head of the Marine Program at WWF Finland
Tel. +358 40 52 714 25 Email.

Pauli Meriman, Director, WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme
Tel. +46 767 886 185 Email.

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Last modified 21/11/19

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