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Suggested Citation:"Passenger Cruise Ships." National Research Council. 1995. Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans: Controlling Garbage and Plastic Wastes at Sea. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4769.
Page 46

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SOURCES, FATES, AND EFFECTS OF SHIPBORNE GARBAGE 46 handling and management remains a major issue in this sector.10 Petroleum product containers, at least some of which can be traced to offshore operations, continue to wash ashore on Gulf of Mexico beaches. Navy Surface Combatant Vessels The Navy operates the U.S. government's largest and most varied fleet, some 360 surface combatant vessels in addition to the auxiliary fleet addressed earlier. Navy vessels typically carry much larger crews than do merchant ships (Navy ships also may carry troops), so substantial amounts of plastics and other garbage are generated and there is little extra space available to store it. Although the Navy apparently generates far less garbage by weight than do some other fleets (according to both Cantin's and the committee's estimates), this is the only sector with a single owner and operator, which therefore faces singular burdens. Furthermore, the Navy has been singled out by the Congress for particular attention, not only in the MPPRCA, but also in a recent congressional investigation of its Annex V compliance plans, equipment, and expenditures (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1994a, 1994b). The length of time spent at sea varies, depending on a ship's mission and degree of self-sufficiency in terms of fuel capacity and food storage capability. A ship may remain at sea for several days to several weeks. Naval vessels have dedicated home ports, but they also may visit foreign ports routinely, and they may operate in special areas, where no garbage except food waste may be discharged. Crews on naval ships generate not only domestic and operational waste but also, in some cases, unique wastes, such as those from amphibious and aircraft operations, troop transport, or document shredding. The exact composition of garbage generated on Navy ships has been documented: 1.36 kilograms (kg) (3 lbs.) of solid waste per person per day. Forty-one percent of the garbage (by weight) is food wastes; 35 percent is paper and cardboard; 17 percent is metal, glass, and "other"; and 7 percent is plastic (Alig et al., 1990). Overall, the amount of garbage generated has been declining because the Navy has cut back on waste, such as packaging (Schultz and Upton, 1988). Passenger Cruise Ships The vast majority of the world's 128 passenger cruise ships are foreign flag, but the United States has an interest in assuring the fleet's compliance with 10 Although accidents are not violations of Annex V, the treaty stipulates that "all reasonable precautions" must taken to avoid loss of fishing gear, which can be equated with equipment and materials—particularly plastics—used by the offshore industry.

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Marine debris is a serious environmental problem. To do its part, the United States has agreed to abide by the international treaty for garbage control at sea, known as MARPOL 73/78 Annex V.

Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans explores the challenge of translating Annex V into workable laws and regulations for all kinds of ships and boats, from cruise ships to fishing crafts and recreational boats. The volume examines how existing resources can be leveraged into a comprehensive strategy for compliance, including integrated waste management systems and effective enforcement.

Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans describes both progress toward and obstacles to Annex V compliance. The book covers:

  • How shipborne garbage orignates and what happens to garbage discharged into the seas.
  • Effects of discharge on human health, wildlife safety, and aesthetics.
  • Differences in perspective among military, industrial, and recreational seafarers and shoreside facilities.

Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans will be important to marine policymakers, port administrators, ship operations officers, maritime engineers, and marine ecologists.

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