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ICS Meets with Ministers to Discuss Arctic Shipping

June 6, 2013

ICS Meets with Ministers to Discuss Arctic Shipping

At a Summit in Oslo on June 5, Board Members of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) met with Ministers from major shipping nations and the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to discuss Arctic Shipping.

The Oslo 2013 Maritime Summit, coordinated by the Norwegian Government and attended by Ministers and senior officials from Greece, Japan, Norway, Russia, Singapore, United States and the European Commission, underlined the need for government and industry cooperation in order to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the Arctic in a way that reconciles the need for both environmental and economic sustainability.

ICS Chairman, Masamichi Morooka, explained, “ICS was keen to stress the importance of Arctic nations avoiding unilateral measures that might cut across IMO Conventions or the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.”

He stressed the immediate priority for ICS was to continue to work within IMO to assist in the completion and adoption by governments of the IMO Polar Code, which is expected to become mandatory via amendments to the SOLAS and MARPOL Conventions in 2014.

“ICS believes that the development of the Polar Code needs to be risk-based, so that requirements imposed on ships take full account of the hazards relevant to the type of ship operation, the ship location and the season of operation,” said Mr. Morooka.

ICS members also set out a number of further principles regarding the future governance of Arctic waters.  These included the need for Arctic coastal states to avoid imposing discriminatory treatment that might prejudice the rights of ships registered with non-Arctic nations, as well as the importance of appropriate fees for services.

ICS also called for clarity regarding the legal status of Arctic waters. “As remote Arctic sea routes become accessible these once academic issues are becoming increasingly important,” said Mr. Morooka.

ICS argues that the UNCLOS regime of "transit passage" for straits used in international navigation takes precedence over the rights of coastal states to enact unilateral measures against international shipping.

The Summit concluded by emphasizing the importance of governments and shipowners, as represented by ICS, cooperating to ensure that the draft IMO Polar Code is adopted and implemented as soon as possible.

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