Sustainable cruise ship industry proposed

Noting the cultural and economic significance of Guam’s longtime participation in the festival, Sen. Kelly Marsh-Taitano said it’s important that GovGuam is prepared and has funding set aside to support the Guam delegation’s attendance every four years when the event takes place.

Senator Kelly Marsh (Taitano) is pushing for a cruise ship industry that is more responsible and environmentally sustainable.

In her letter of support for the recently established cruise industry task force, Taitano offered a number of low impact, environmentally-friendly alternatives for the task force to consider.

“As our local government and the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures are working to incorporate a small cruise industry within the region, it is in the best interests of the community that we do so in a way that is sustainable, responsible, and with a mindset to preserve the beauty and health of our island home and its surrounding waters,” she wrote.

The senator particularly expressed concerns regarding any proposal that would require the dredging of Guam’s coastal areas to create new berthing or docking stations to accommodate cruise ships, as has been proposed from time to time over the years.

“Our marine resources are extremely precious to our community. They sustain us by feeding us as well as feeding into our tourism industry and are enjoyed recreationally by many on the island. Dredging permanently destroys significant portions of our marine ecosystem,” the senator said. “This in turn, negatively impacts marine species and their habitats. In addition, the turbidity of the water caused by dredging can spread more pollution, transfer unwanted organisms to other parts of the water, and release unsolicited nutrients from the soil among other negative impacts.”

Instead, the senator recommends that the task force explore different modes of water transportation that provide cruise ship passengers and other visitors access to various villages in Guam, such as, Hagåtña or Humåtak, during their brief stays.

“Hovercrafts, super catamarans, or other such types of transportation have the potential to create a new and enjoyable experience of venturing, in a very comfortable fashion, to parts of the island that visitors, especially those on cruise ships, may not otherwise have much access. This, in turn, allows for economic opportunities to be spread to communities around the island,” the senator concluded.