Alaska fishermen appeal Carnival’s $20 million pollution settlement

Holland America was caught illegally dumping 26,000 gallons of grey water inside Glacier Bay National Park in 2018. It was fined $250 by the National Park Service. (Photo courtesy of National Park Service).

Three Alaskans are appealing a deal reached between Carnival Corporation and federal prosecutors after the world’s largest cruise company recently admitted to violating its felony probation.

The Miami-based cruise giant admitted to illegally discharging wastewater, plastics and other material and then trying to cover it up. One of its violations included tens of thousands of grey water discharged last year in Glacier Bay National Park.

Three Alaskans claimed harm from Carnival’s pollution under the federal Crime Victims Rights Act. But the district court judge denied the motion.

Eric Forrer, a retired fisherman who lives on Auke Bay near Juneau, said that left him perplexed.

“If the commercial fishermen, who are actually on the water, harvesting resources, from the very waters that Carnival is polluting aren’t injured — nobody is injured,” Forrer told CoastAlaska.

The settlement includes expanded court-ordered monitoring and a $20 million penalty in addition to the $40 million the company has already paid in 2016.

“That sounds like a lot of money to normal people,” said Kendra Ulrich, shipping campaigner for Stand.earth, the San Francisco-based group that’s coordinating the legal challenge filed Monday. “But for a multi-billion dollar international corporation it cannot even be characterized as a slap-on-the-wrist.”

Carnival posted a $3.2 billion profit during the last fiscal year.

In a written statement to CoastAlaska, Carnival said that environmental protection is a top corporate priority.

“We treasure the places we visit, and our goal is to leave these destinations even better than before we first arrived,” Roger Frizzell, spokesman for the Miami-based company, wrote.

Carnival owns more than 100 cruise ships operated by nine cruise brands. It plans to hire a chief compliance officer to oversee its subsidiaries including Holland America, Princess Cruise Lines and Cunard.

The appeals court is expected to rule later this week.