Cruise Ship Lines


The Department of Ecology regulates waste discharge from Cruise Ships in Washington State.


A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Department of Ecology (Ecology), the Cruise Lines International Association North West & Canada (CLIA-NWC) and the Port of Seattle was originally signed on April 20, 2004. It has been amended five times since then to strengthen the requirements.

The MOU covers large passenger ships that are members of the CLIA-NWC.

It does not cover ships such as:

The MOU prohibits discharges of both blackwater and graywater to Washington state waters from all cruise ships except discharges treated with advanced wastewater treatment systems (AWTS) and when stringent requirements are met. Such systems have been and are being installed on some of the cruise ships serving the Alaska market. AWTS are installed to provide treatment that meets or exceeds Alaska’s requirements under federal law.

The MOU defines the subject waters as being consistent with Washington marine waters. It requires sampling and monitoring of wastewater discharges and allows for vessel inspections by Ecology.

The MOU includes additional elements, such as:

  • Sewage sludge (biomass) discharges are prohibited within 12 nautical miles from shore and within the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.
  • No discharges within a half a mile of shellfish beds.
  • Specific sampling regimen, testing, and reporting are required.
  • Continuous monitoring for turbidity and disinfection with capability to shut down immediately.
  • Advanced notification and documentation are required from ships planning to discharge via an AWTS.
  • Cruise ships must comply with Washington’s more restrictive hazardous-waste laws, are prohibited from dumping garbage into state waters and may only discharge oily bilge water per regulation.

Related Links


Annual Cruise MOU Meeting
April 18th, 2017
Port of Seattle, Pier 69

Meeting agenda

Need to Report a Spill or MOU

Immediately Report MOU Non-Compliance to the Department of Ecology at: 425-649-7000 (24-hours)

Immediately Report “upset of disinfection" to Department of Health at: 360-236-3330 (8 am-5 pm) or 360-786-4183 (after hrs.)

Information for reporting oil or other spills

Map of Waters
Subject to MOU

Cruise Lead:
Amy Jankowiak Department of Ecology Water Quality Program 3190 160th Ave. SE Bellevue, WA 98008