Sea Dumping: Legal and Ethical Issues

The issue regarding the pollution of the environment seems to be significantly important to solve; otherwise, the society will be in a threat. The unlimited human activity has already influenced the surrounding. The negative impact resulted in climate change. One of the most dangerous factors that contribute to the problem is industries and fossil fuels. However, not everyone is aware of another aspect that has an adverse impact on the environment, namely the sea dumping. Cruising is a popular way to spend the vacation. Despite all the advantages that such kind of vacation has, one should keep in mind that one day of the voyage worth more than seven tons of the garbage. The primary purpose of the paper is to explore legal and ethical issues regarding the sea dumping and examine the approaches used by cruise lines to increase the social responsibility.

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Sea dumping seems to be an urgent problem that demands certain regulation as it influences the environment in an impressive way. As the matter of fact, the fundamental obstacle to finding the solution is the lack of control over the issue. According to the international law, countries should take care of the ocean that is close to the shore (three miles). Although every country develops own rules and laws, the enforcement in most cases is limited. The clean and not polluted sea is the priority not only for the whole world but the cruising companies as well. Nevertheless, in the vast majority of cases it is not the reason to eliminate the sea dumping, as according to the recent researches, the level of the illegal dumping increases worldwide. During the last years, the cruise lines paid almost 50 million of dollars (Gossling, Hall, & Scott, 2015). Although the fines seem to be high, it worth stating that it was taken for the period of 10 years and the profit of the company in comparison to the money spent on fines are impressively big as they make billions of dollars a year.

The major legal issue in the case is connected to the fact that water pollution is strictly regulated by the law. It should be highlighted that the United Nations have already forecasted the adverse outcomes and created a set of rules that are supposed to limit and reduce the pollution and wastes. However, the United Nations is not the only organization that puts a lot of efforts to deal with the problem. The International Maritime Organization works for the same aim. They have developed some treaties that are centred on the prevention of the water pollution. According to the point of view of the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “human activities are taking a terrible toll on the world’s oceans and seas” (Gossling, Hall, & Scott, 2015). The question demands urgent solution as it influences the marine ecosystem in a significant way.

The case seems to have not only legal issues but ethical as well. As the matter of fact, the industry of the cruise ships has already changed the focus towards enormous sizes, luxury, and comfort of the passengers. Despite the fact that cruise ships are only one side of the problem, they contribute to the ocean pollution. With the increasing of the size of the ships, they have gained power as well as the waste production. The waste contains hazardous toxic substances that can affect human health and marine life in an adverse way and lead to the destruction of the ocean ecosystem. The cruise ship wastes are unregulated and usually are dumped close to the shore. People should become environmentally friendly and save the environment until it is not too late. However, despite the understanding how the sea dumping affects the surrounding, the corporate social responsibility does not show a great concern regarding the environmental aspects.

The top leading and dominating companies in the industry of the cruising are Carnival Corp and Royal Caribbean. They show the lack of interest towards the solution of the problem. To improve the situation society should be active in increasing the awareness and drawing attention towards the environmental issues. The cruising companies faced a number of lawsuits and nowadays state that they shifted the objective towards environmentally friendly strategies. However, in the reality, the situation is different as the companies break laws and try to find the concession by lobbing. The major problem is that people understand the consequences of the water pollution but act in their interests to make more money and attract passengers. Nevertheless, it is only the matter of time when the situation will become worse, and the surrounding will reflect the negative impact. It should be stated that ethical issues seem to be significantly important for the society to get better understanding the consequences of the irresponsible human activity.

The question regarding social responsibility of the cruise lines seems to be essential to take into consideration. It should be stressed that some companies take actions to save the environment. The ships that are enormous in size produce a lot of wastes. Ecoventura has developed their strategy to minimize the pollution (Parsa, 2015). They try to limit the quantity of passenger. Royal Caribbean International aims to follow the green movement; however, the actions taken by the companies are not enough for the reduction of the sea dumping. According to the recent researches, from 80 companies two-thirds do not have the information regarding the corporate social responsibility on their web page. The organizations that state the information use it theoretically; however, there are no factual data that prove the performance of the strategies. The lack of transparency makes the topic difficult to research.

The experts state that “to be able to claim environmental responsibility, cruise companies should use an advanced system and use it consistently, not just dependent on the jurisdiction” (Cruise industry failing on corporate social responsibility reporting, 2014). The main reason companies do not implement the environmentally friendly strategies into the working process is that it is costly and demands the usage of advanced technologies and innovations. Notwithstanding the financial factor, cruise companies should understand that ocean pollution would influence their work in future as no one wants to have a vacation in the hazardous environment.

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In conclusion, it should be pointed out that the issue regarding the sea dumping is urgent and demands the solution. I do not profess to be an expert concerning the subject, but I am strongly convinced that saving the environment should receive the priority and should be supported by the government of all the countries. It is the collective duty to reach the understanding of the problem and direct all the forces to prevent sea dumping as it influences not only the ocean ecosystem but the human health as well.


Cruise industry failing on corporate social responsibility reporting. (2014). Web.

Gossling, S., Hall, C., & Scott, D. (2015). The Routledge handbook of tourism and sustainability. Abingdon, U. K.: Routledge.

Parsa, H. (2015). Sustainability, social responsibility and innovations in the hospitality industry. Oakville, ON: Apple Academic Press.

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