California State Senator Joe Simitian has great hopes the Canadian government will start taking a closer look at the cruise ship industry. Last month, Simitian introduced legislation that would require cruise ships steaming through the Golden State's waters to have a so-called ocean ranger on board to "monitor matters of public safety and environmental compliance." The reason: according to his bill, "the cruise ship industry has a poor record of self-policing environmental practices" and has "failed to adopt adequate measures to protect passengers from theft, rape, assaults, and suspected homocides." And, in an interview with Public Eye, Mr. Simitian said "the ideal situation would be a seamless network of protection from one end of the Pacific coast to another" - with Canada adopting similar legislation.
Federal New Democrat parliamentarian Denise Savoie says her caucus supports opening up committee hearings on the subject. But setting up such a network could prove problematic. For his part, Mr. Simitian says his legislation won't pass without a fight. "I expect substantial push back from the industry. That's been my experience in previous years working on coastal protection legislation that involves the cruise ship industry. And when folks come to me with legitimate issues, concerns and problems in the legislation I try to solve them. But I think there's a gaping hole in the system right now."
The NorthWest Cruise Ship Association hasn't yet responded to a request for comment. Alaska also has ocean ranger program. But its independent observers only monitor compliance with state and federal "marine discharge and pollution requirements" - not public safety issues.