Cruise Ship Boom in Santa Barbara

cruise-ship-in-SBSanta Barbara will host a record 22 cruise ship visits in 2013, up from 2-6 visits in recent years. While some welcome the revenue expected from cruise ship passengers shopping and dining in Santa Barbara (estimated at about $200 per couple), others including Channelkeeper are concerned about the potential environmental impacts of this drastic increase in cruise ship traffic through the Santa Barbara Channel.

An average 3,000-person cruise ship generates 30,000 gallons of sewage, 150,000 gallons of graywater (wastewater from galleys, showers, sinks and laundry), 5,000 gallons of oily bilge water, 15 gallons of toxic chemicals, and seven tons of solid waste, as well as air pollution equal to that from more than 12,000 cars PER DAY. While existing regulations prohibit cruise ships from dumping any waste within three miles of shore, and the Santa Barbara Waterfront Department requires cruise ship captains to sign an “Environmental Declaration” promising not to dump sewage or graywater within 12 miles of the Santa Barbara coast, monitoring and enforcement of these provisions is extremely minimal, and the cruise industry has a checkered past when it comes to environmental compliance.

To ensure that the increase in cruise ship traffic through the Santa Barbara Channel doesn’t result in increased pollution, Channelkeeper is monitoring cruise ships when they call on Santa Barbara, both from our boat and from airplanes. We are looking for people with airplanes to volunteer their time to fly over cruise ships when they are visiting Santa Barbara and to document and report to us any potential pollution they might observe. Please email or call us at 805.563.3377 if you can help!