ACO Marine hails pollution report calling for cruise technology upgrades

(PRAGUE) — ACO Marine has welcomed the findings reported in the Friends of the Earth 2016 Cruise Ship Report Card, the annual survey of cruise shipping’s impact on the environment, which highlights a growing need for the sector to update its sewage treatment technology.

The annual FOE survey, published in June, documented the environmental footprint of 17 cruise lines and 171 cruise ships, finding that a significant proportion of vessels continue to operate outdated sewage treatment plants.

The FOE found that 40 percent of cruise ships continue to use 35-year-old technology, calling for an urgent upgrade to systems capable of preventing environmental damage from the discharge of poorly treated blackwater, graywater and galley wastewater streams.

“The FOE report paints a contrasting picture to the environmentally conscientious one offered by the cruise lines themselves,” said Mark Beavis, managing director of ACO Marine. “That 40 percent of cruise ships are still using wastewater treatment technology developed in the 1980s suggests that some of these cruise ships are unable to meet current regulatory requirements. Certainly some of these vessels will be incapable of meeting the more stringent requirements set out in MEPC.227 (64), which limits the amount of phosphorous and nitrogen discharged in treated effluent.”

Beavis added, “With an increasing trend for expedition-type cruising in ecologically sensitive areas, it is paramount to environmental conservation that the cruise sector adopts wastewater technology capable of helping to prevent the nitrification of our seas.”

While Friends of the Earth continues to push the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to update its sewage treatment standards under the Clean Water Act, the environmental campaigner noted that an average cruise ship with 3,000 passengers and crew produces about 21,000 gallons of sewage and about 150,000 gallons of graywater each day.

Marcie Keever, oceans and vessels program director for Friends of the Earth, stated in a June news release, “With the Northwest Passage now open in the summer due to climate change, the cruise industry’s expanding itineraries will bring increasingly damaging pollution to even more sensitive areas like the Arctic. It’s way past time to set a higher bar for this industry.”

Of the 17 cruise lines FOE assessed for the 2016 report, seven were "A" graded according to four environmental criteria: sewage treatment, air pollution reduction, water quality compliance and transparency. Seven were given grades ranging from C- to F.

The report can be viewed in full at

By Professional Mariner Staff