CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) -- A conference under way in Charleston is dealing with the impacts of cruise ships on historic port communities worldwide.

The three-day meeting is focusing on how to balance the benefits that cruises bring against their potential impacts of congestion and pollution. It's a debate that has been raging from Mobile, Ala., to Venice, Italy.

The debate has been especially heated in Charleston, where the year-round cruise industry has sparked lawsuits in both the state and federal courts.

Organizers of the conference hope it will result in a series of guidelines to allow communities to handle cruises.

The conference is being sponsored by the World Monuments Fund, the Preservation Society of Charleston and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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