'Adapting To Change: UK policy towards the Arctic' introduced by Mark Simmonds Minister for the Polar Regions Foreign and Commonwealth Office has been released. The document acknowledges that the scale of the challenges facing the Arctic is immense and compounded by the speed of the changes. For this reason the whole of Government has signed up to the comprehensive set of measures outlined in the Policy Framework. An excerpt from the shipping section follows:
It is the UK view that regulation of the shipping industry should take place on a global basis and be regulated universally without prejudice using an equitable approach. The forum in which this is and should be carried out is the IMO, where the UK plays, and will continue to play, a leading role. The IMO is an effective body with a substantial record of achievement. The UK will promote the IMO as the most appropriate authority for the regulation of international shipping, including that in Arctic waters.
The UK considers the existing international regimes robust. UNCLOS remains paramount and in the fields of maritime safety and prevention of pollution respectively the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), both of which were developed in the forum of the IMO, will continue to be authoritative.
The UK does not believe that it will be necessary or appropriate to make fundamental changes to existing international regimes for regulating Arctic, or other, shipping. The Arctic is an area of increasing importance for maritime transport. One of the principal effects of climate change on the Arctic will be to make the region more accessible to shipping.
An increase in shipping in the Arctic has ramifications for navigational safety. Navigation in Arctic latitudes continues to be hazardous and uncertain, and great care must be taken to ensure navigational safety. Ships operating in the Arctic environment are exposed to a number of unique risks such as poor weather conditions, the relative lack of good charts, very restricted Search and Rescue capabilities and the lack of shore infrastructure and other navigational aids which pose challenges for mariners.
The .PDF document can by downloaded at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/251216/Adapting_To_Change_UK_policy_towards_the_Arctic.pdf