||In 2003, the National Park Service (NPS) completed the Vessel Quota and Operating Requirements Environmental Impact Statement (VQOR EIS). Subsequent regulations delegated the authority to set annual cruise ship quotas to the park superintendent. The VQOR EIS Record of Decision (ROD) states that a determination to increase cruise ship seasonal use-day quotas will rely on criteria that define the environmental and social conditions to be met before any additional use-days are approved.
In 2004, an independent Science Advisory Board (SAB) was appointed to assist in determining and recommending studies that better define these environmental and social conditions, and fill important information gaps. In 2005, the SAB made recommendations for priority research, and several studies were implemented. In 2009, SAB members, principal investigators, and NPS managers met to review results of the first suite of studies. Their assessment indicated that the original impact analyses from the VQOR EIS remain accurate but recommended additional studies that focus on potential impacts to air quality, soundscape, marine wildlife, and the Huna Tlingit relationship to their ancestral homeland.
Based on the scientific information available at this time, the Superintendent has proposed that the 2014 seasonal use-day quotas remain unchanged from the 2013 levels. For the June, July, and August summer season the quota would be set at 153 use days. The May and September shoulder season quota would be set at 92 use days. The year-round daily quota for cruise ships remains at two per day in accordance with the 2003 VQOR EIS ROD and existing regulations.
The NPS is soliciting public comment on the proposed 2014 quotas.