According to the AP, Maine
's Department of Environmental Protection is launching a new permit system that requires discharges by cruise ships to be as clean as wastewater treated on shore.
Cruise ships will be prohibited from dumping wastewater within three miles of the shore unless they can meet the same water quality standards as municipal treatment plants.
The rules apply to passenger ships that have at least 500 beds.
From the point of view of the cruise ship industry, Maine's initiative will have little impact, said Christine Fischer
, spokeswoman for the International Council of Cruise Lines.
Fischer said council members, who include more than 90 percent of the cruise market in North America, have already agreed not to discharge wastewater within four miles of the nation's coastline.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to designate Casco Bay as a no-discharge zone this winter, putting the bay off-limits for any sewage discharges from tankers, freighters and cruise ships, as well as any pleasure boats equipped with on-board toilets.
Cruise ships brought a record number 45,225 passengers to the port of Portland in 2005. But as the passenger count is going up, the number of visiting cruise ships is going down.
Twenty-nine ships stopped in Portland this year, down 45 percent from the peak year of 2001, according to Jeff Monroe, the city's transportation director.