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Calling it a good step toward cleaning up the world's oceans, the international ocean advocacy group Oceana today announced that Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has committed to installing Advanced Wastewater Purification technology (AWP) on all its ships, making each vessel meet strict water quality standards.
In a letter sent to Oceana on May 4, Royal Caribbean chairman and CEO Richard Fain said the company was committed to installing Advanced Wastewater Purification facilities on each of its ships during normal drydocking operations, as well as on all newly constructed ships.
"We're extremely gratified about Royal Caribbean's decision," said Andrew Sharpless, Oceana's chief executive officer. "They deserve a lot of credit for making this commitment to preserve and protect the health of our oceans, which we believe will result in upgrading their entire fleet before 2008. As a result, we will suspend our campaign activities against Royal Caribbean. Of course, we will be watching closely to make sure that the company follows through on its commitment. Ultimately, we believe that federal legislation is necessary to level the playing field for the entire industry. We will continue to fight for effective laws here in Washington, laws that will address enforcement and no discharge areas, for example."
"While a few cruise ships are using advanced wastewater treatment technology already, we're glad Royal Caribbean is going to use these systems on its entire fleet," said Dr. Michael Hirshfield, Oceana's chief scientist. "However, it is critical that the systems also be operated properly. We are pleased that the company will have independent, third-party auditors monitoring this new, state-of-the-art technology, and we are glad that they will let the public know how the systems are performing."
Said Sharpless, "Industry leadership has always been an important aspect of environmental improvement. Not very long ago, society accepted discharges of raw sewage from city sewage plants, and oil pollution turned rivers black. Now, all sectors of society have come to realize that our oceans should not be used as dumping grounds. We're glad that our campaign helped convince Royal Caribbean to take these actions. Royal Caribbean's commitment means that our oceans will be cleaner."
Oceana began its campaign against Royal Caribbean in July, 2003.
Oceana organizes campaigns to protect and restore the oceans. Campaign teams of marine scientists, economists, lawyers and advocates seek specific policy outcomes to help stop the irreversible collapse of fish stocks, marine mammal populations and other sea life. More than 170,000 members and e-activists in more than 150 countries have joined Oceana.