The cruise industry, the Port of Seattle and the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) have agreed to strengthen existing protections for the marine waters of the Pacific Northwest by prohibiting all cruise ship wastewater discharges within the entire Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

“The Port of Seattle applauds the Northwest Cruise Ship Association for working with the Port and Ecology to address concerns about the environmental impact of increased cruise traffic at the Port,” said Port of Seattle Commission President John Creighton . “The cruise industry has shown leadership in the maritime industry by reducing air emissions through the use of shorepower and low sulfur fuels,” Creighton said. “Installing state-of-the-art wastewater treatment systems and agreeing to not discharge within the marine sanctuary is another strong step in the right direction.”

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by the NorthWest Cruiseship Association (NWCA), the Port and Ecology in 2004 established protections that prevent discharges of untreated wastewater and biosolids in state waters. Wastewater treated with advanced on-board treatment systems can be discharged in state waters with approval from Ecology. Advanced treatment systems treat wastewater to standards equal to or greater than shore-based municipal treatment plants that discharge in state waters. The agreement also established a program that allows Ecology inspectors to board ships, look at log books and examine wastewater treatment equipment.

”Ecology is pleased that these Seattle based ships have committed to extending the MOU beyond Washington Waters,” said Jeannie Summerhays, Ecology’s Northwest Region Director. “Including the entire sanctuary recognizes the important marine resources protected there.”

“The cruise lines are committed to maintaining very high environmental standards in Washington waters and in the neighboring jurisdictions of British Columbia and Alaska ,” said John Hansen, President of NWCA. “The MOU is a very important instrument for setting, and maintaining, those standards.”

The Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary encompasses 3,310 square miles off of Washington State's Olympic Peninsula, extending 135 miles along the Washington Coast from about Cape Flattery to the mouth of the Copalis River.