A pollution-control agreement between the State of Washington and cruise lines operating in the waters off Western Washington has been expanded to protect shellfish beds, and could become state law during the next year. Coastal Tribes located near Puget Sound utilize shellfish for food, economic development activities, and cultural purposes. The state’s prior agreement with the cruise lines allowed cruise ships to dump raw sewage near the coast, posing a significant threat to the natural habitat and the quality and quantity of Tribal shellfish harvests.
The revised agreement prohibits cruise ships carrying 250+ people from releasing sewage within 1/2 mile of commercial or Tribal shellfish beds, requires the installation of pollution monitors to detect discharges, and implements mandatory and immediate reporting requirements for improper discharges. If state lawmakers turn the agreement into law during the next legislative session, cruise ships could face fines and other penalties for not respecting the Tribal shellfish harvest.
More information on the agreement can be found at the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.