FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE WEDNESDAY, MARCH 8, 1995

ENR (202) 616-0189 TDD (202) 514-1888

CRUISE SHIP COMPANY CONVICTED OF DUMPING SENTENCE TO INCLUDE $250,000 CRIMINAL FINE CONVICTION HIGHLIGHTS INDUSTRY DUMPING PROBLEM Regency Cruises, Inc., a cruise ship company, was ordered this afternoon to pay $250,000 by the Federal District Court for the Middle District of Florida for deliberately dumping plastic garbage into the Gulf of Mexico in 1993. Regency Cruises, owner of the Bahamian flag cruise ships Regent Rainbow and Regent Sea based in Tampa, Florida, and which ply the waters of the Gulf, was charged with and pled guilty to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. "Congress and the international community have banned plastic pollution because of its damaging effects on the environment and wildlife," said Lois J. Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General for Environment and Natural Resources. "Dumping is all too common a problem in the shipping industry. Today's sentence should send a clear message to the shipping industry that any dumping of plastics will not be tolerated." This is only the third case to charge dumping of plastic in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships ("APPS") and the first to charge dumping of plastic beyond the U.S. 12-mile territorial limit. In U.S. v. Princess Cruises, Inc., the first APPS case, the owner of the Regal Princess cruise ship was sentenced to a $500,000.00 fine for a single act of dumping plastic garbage bags and the cruise ship passenger who videotaped the violation was rewarded half that amount. This year, the Department of Justice filed its first two cases under the Act for dumping of plastics in inland water ways. Today's sentence stemmed from two specific instances. On February 6, 1993, local fishermen saw a school of porpoises swimming through a swarm of plastic garbage bags approximately 25 to 30 miles off of St. Petersburg Beach. The fishermen immediately notified the Coast Guard Marine Safety Office in Tampa, Florida. Following the Coast Guard's instructions, the fishermen were able to retrieve some of the bags, which contained information pertaining to that week's voyage of the Regent Rainbow. The second crime was detected after a cruise ship passenger aboard the Regent Sea witnessed the crew dumping plastic bags approximately 29 miles off Cortez/Bradenton, Florida, during a cruise that departed and returned to the Port of Tampa during Valentines Week, February 7-14, 1993.

In addition to the fine, U.S. District Court Judge Ralph W. Nimmons, Jr. required the company to implement an environmental compliance program to prevent and detect environmental crimes and publish letters of public apology in two major Florida newspapers -- the St. Petersburg Times and the Tampa Tribune -- and a trade journal -- Florida Environments. The public apology from the company states: "Our company has taken steps to insure that such violation swill not occur in the future and hope that our guilty plea will be a lesson to others that environmental laws must be respected." In announcing the sentence at a 4:00 p.m. hearing today, Judge Nimmons commended the citizens who reported the crimes and added that "without their cooperation, these offenses could not have been prosecuted." Judge Nimmons said he will ask a Magistrate-Judge to recommend whether and how much the fishermen and cruise ship passenger who reported the crimes should be rewarded. Under the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, those providing information leading to conviction may be rewarded up to one half of any fine amount. The Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships made it a crime to violate an international treaty, known as the MARPOL Protocol, which prohibits various types of ocean dumping including plastic and to which the U.S. is a signatory. The Act and Coast Guard regulations make it a crime to knowingly discharge plastic within the U.S. 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone. "Ocean dumping threatens Florida's beaches, tourism and industries. This sentence, which includes a criminal fine, Court supervised environmental compliance program and public apology is an appropriate sanction to punish this defendant and deter others," said Charles R. Wilson, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. Schiffer and Wilson also commended the outstanding work of the Coast Guard Marine Safety Office in Tampa and the FBI in investigating this case. ### 95-130