Cruise line pays in whale death

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In a first-of-its kind prosecution, Princess Cruise Lines paid $750,000 last week in connection with the death of a pregnant humpback whale found in Alaska’s Glacier BayNational Park.

In an agreement with prosecutors, the cruise line pleaded guilty to knowingly failing to operate one of its cruise ships at a slow, safe speed while near two whales in July 2001, an Associated Press report says. The body of a pregnant 45-foot humpback whale was found floating near the mouth of Glacier Bay in southeast Alaska.

“Our marine mammals are national treasures to be preserved for future generations,” Alaska’s U.S. attorney says in the report. Humpback whales are an endangered species. “We must protect them from criminal and negligent acts committed by individuals or large corporations,” he says.

Although Princess Cruise Lines — a division of Carnival Corp. — did not admit that one of its ships struck the whale the company paid a $200,000 fine, plus $550,000 in restitution to the National Park Foundation, according to the report.

“We take our responsibility to be good stewards of the environment very seriously,” Princess Cruises CEO Peter Ratcliffe says in the report.

Jason Fell