Ocean Ranger Program
In 2006, Alaska voters passed Ballot Measure 2 creating an Ocean Ranger program in the Department of Environmental Conservation) which became law on December 17, 2006. Alaska is the first and only state to require U.S. Coast Guard licensed marine engineers on board vessels to act as independent observers monitoring State environmental and marine discharge requirements. Ocean Rangers also check that passengers and crew are protected from improper sanitation, health, and safety practices. This program is managed by the Commercial Passenger Vessel Environmental Compliance Program, which was created in 2001 to monitor cruise ships in Alaskan waters.
What is an Ocean Ranger?
Ocean Rangers are Coast Guard certified marine engineers or a person who holds a degree in marine safety and environmental protection from an accredited maritime educational institution. Ocean Rangers will use a checklist to monitor compliance with state and federal requirements pertaining to marine discharge and pollution.
Which cruise ships will have Ocean Rangers on them?
All large (overnight) cruise ships that have berths for over 250 passengers. Alaska Marine Highway Vessels do not fall under the Ocean Rangers Program, but do fall under the registration and sampling program for small cruise ships. The Department is attempting to provide as much voyage coverage as possible given logistical and financial limits. Out of 504 large ship voyages in 2017, Ocean Rangers were scheduled to ride 287 voyages (56.9%). In-port inspections will be used to provide coverage when an Ocean Ranger is not riding on a full voyage (22.4% of voyages). There are voyages with no inspections, these are not covered due to logistics or financial limits (for example- Seward to Asia with a stop in Dutch Harbor.) These voyages make up about 20.6% of the total number of voyages.
Where does the Program Funding Come From?
Ballot Measure 2 included a $4 per berth Ocean Ranger fee. Revenues of this fee are estimated to be approximately $4.1 million a year.
What other ways does the Department have to monitor cruiseships?
In addition to the Ocean Ranger program, DEC has existing registration and sampling programs. DEC works with the Coast Guard to regularly sample wastewater from cruise ships and ferries. View these reports.
DEC also monitors visible air emissions from cruise ships. More information on the air program is available at the CPVEC air web site. Ballot Measure 2 also requires large cruise ships to report vessel tracking data to DEC. This allows DEC to use radio and satellite positional reports to verify the course and location of large cruise ships.
Where can I get more information?
Visit the Commercial Passenger Vessel Environmental Compliance Program web page, or call DEC’s Cruise Ship Program 907-465-5278.