Wildlife activists gathered at the San Carlos Beach in Monterey Bay last weekend in an effort to protest the growing number of cruise ships using that location as a scheduled stop along their journeys. An estimated 100 protestors swarmed the beach with paddles and kayaks to bring attention to the environmental effects of cruise ships in the bay.
What has these protesters so upset is the fact that these ships are stopping in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. In 2019, 18 ships are scheduled to stop in Monterey Bay. This number is 11 more from 2018 and up 13 from 2017. In 2020, 20 ships are expected to stop in Monterey Bay, which leads them to believe these numbers will just increase over the years.
These ships stop in Monterey anytime between California winters and Alaska summers. The large cruise ships set anchor just outside of Monterey Harbor and transport passengers via ferry to visit the area. The influx of tourists does bring the area a much-needed economic boost, but the results to the surrounding environment are less positive.
The protesters are concerned about the pollution that these ships and ferries bring to the bay. They claim that the emissions from the ships are contributing directly to air pollution in the area. Additionally, they believe that the water is being polluted from the ships’ accidentally emitting liquids into the bay, while noise pollution from the ships hurt the marine mammals living in the waters.
However, area officials argue that they have considered these risks, and they have been addressed. John Haynes, Monterey Harbormaster, has said that sanctuary regulations require cruise ships to follow certain requirements to keep the area safe during their visit to Monterey Bay.
Per these regulations, the ships must anchor in one of two specific sandy spots. These areas were chosen for the minimal impact that they have on underwater reefs. The ships are also required to be driven by a specialized captain known as a bar pilot. These captains are trained in the local hazards and are officially certified to navigate ships of this size while in Monterey Bay.
While the cruise ships are anchored, the regulations require that they burn only clean diesel. This fuel has fewer pollutants than the normal bunker oil which cruise ships burn while they are at sea. If the ship does emit any fluid, it can only be coolant water used on the ship’s engine.
Additionally, officials argue that the cruise ships are no different than other boats that are allowed in the bay. The protesters only seem to be focused on the cruise ships in particular, but ships of a similar size to cruise ships have been going through the marine life sanctuary for years. However, protestors argue that, even with these regulations, the damage to the environment is still unacceptable and dangerous to the marine life sanctuary.
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