Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) today introduced the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009, according to the Friends of the Earth organization, which said the legislation would protect cruise ship passengers against violent crimes, better inform passengers about crime rates aboard cruise ships, and authorize the Coast Guard to dispatch personnel to monitor cruise ship waste discharges.

“Few people realize that if they become the victim of a crime on a cruise ship outside U.S. territorial waters, they may not be protected by the laws that protect them on land,” said Marcie Keever, Clean Vessels Campaign Director of Friends of the Earth. “Indeed, cruise lines aren’t even required to report such incidents to law enforcement authorities.”

The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act would require cruise lines to report all deaths, missing individuals, alleged crimes, and complaints regarding theft, sexual harassment, and assault. The bill would also mandate peepholes in stateroom doors as well as security latches. Such safety features are standard in hotels, but do not always exist on cruise ships.

In addition, the bill would authorize the Coast Guard to deploy officers to monitor cruise ship waste discharges.