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46,000 want to suspend Carnival cruise ships in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park

Press Release: Activists with the Clean Up Carnival Coalition held a press conference outside the National Park Service’s Anchorage Regional Office on Monday, February 10, and delivered a petition signed by more than 46,000 people to the federal agency calling for the suspension of Carnival Corporation’s cruise ship permits in Glacier Bay National Park — the ancestral lands of the Huna Tlingit — until the company installs third-party monitoring of water and air pollution on its ships and makes the data available to the public in real time. 

The move comes after Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy eliminated funding for Ocean Rangers, the state’s program for on-board cruise ship inspectors. The program was created by a ballot initiative and was paid for by cruise ship passengers until the Governor’s veto in July 2019.

At the press conference, activists held 10-by-10 ft banners that read “Protect Alaska Waters”, “No Permits for Polluters” and “Keep Out: Glacier Bay Cruise Pollution.” Nearby, an art installation of an 8-foot-long cruise ship belched pollution.

Clean Up Carnival Coalition representatives from environmental organizations Stand.earth, Pacific Environment, Friends of the Earth US were joined by Wanda Culp, a member of the Huna Tlingit, whose ancestral territories include the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve.

“In 1996, Alaska leaders used the National Park Service to ban the Hoonah Tlingit from Glacier Bay National Park as contaminants to a pristine scientific laboratory. In that same regulation, the number of large cruise ship entries doubled from what had been allowed. It was all about the money,” said Wanda Culp, a member of the Huna Tlingit. “I call upon all human intelligence to speak out against big industries owning our governments, while they dictate substandard living upon us and plan for the full destruction of Earth’s remaining untouched wildlands.”

In 2018, Carnival Corporation’s Holland America Line committed a felony inside Glacier Bay National Park when it illegally dumped untreated greywater and failed to report it to the Coast Guard. This felony occurred while Carnival Corporation was already on probation for seven felony convictions for the intentional illegal dumping of oily waste for nearly a decade and falsifying records to cover it up. In June 2019, Carnival Corporation pled guilty to several probation violations in Glacier Bay and worldwide, including illegally dumping wastewater and plastic into the ocean and burning dirty fuel where it wasn’t allowed.

The National Park Service issued a mere $250 USD fine to Carnival Corporation for the dumping in Glacier Bay National Park, and the State of Alaska issued a $17,000 fine to the company.

“Carnival Corporation is a cruise giant, and its decades-long track record of environmental lawbreaking shows it believes itself to be above the law. Carnival has proven over and over that it cannot be trusted to self-regulate, especially when operating in culturally important and sensitive ecosystems like Glacier Bay. The National Park Service must start doing the job Congress tasked it with: protecting our National Parks. And the only way to do that is to prevent companies like Carnival from entering Glacier Bay until it can ensure compliance,” said Kendra Ulrich, Senior Shipping Campaigner at Stand.earth. 

“Cruise ships provide one of the best ways of experiencing Alaska’s natural beauty, yet Carnival Corporation has proved repeatedly its disregard for the protection of our oceans and marine wildlife in Alaska and around the world. The National Park Service should take immediate action to suspend Carnival’s permits to Glacier Bay National Park until every one of its brands can prove a commitment to more stringent environmental standards and transparency,” said Jim Gamble, Arctic Program Director at Pacific Environment.

“If a multi-billion dollar corporation like Carnival continuously commits contaminating crimes in places as beautiful and pristine as Glacier Bay National Park, where will they not disregard important environmental laws? They should be stewards of the waters where they take great pride to bring their customers to experience. But instead, they keep violating rules that are meant to protect coastal communities and our marine ecosystems. The National Park Service has an opportunity to listen to people from around the country and ensure Carnival gets its act together before operating again in America’s protected areas,” said Verner Wilson, Senior Oceans Campaigner at Friends of the Earth U.S.

The petition, signed by more than 46,000 people, calls on the National Park Service to suspend the concession contracts that allow Carnival Corporation to use the waters of Glacier Bay National Park for its profit, until it can prove that it can stop using the waters as a dumping ground for its sewage, greywater, and food waste, and start complying with both the terms of those contracts and the letter of the law.

After the press conference, the groups met with National Park Service Acting Regional Director Don Striker to deliver the petition.

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