Shipping Rules to Protect Arctic Ocean

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

August 24, 2015

Photo: Friends of the Earth U.S.

Photo: Friends of the Earth U.S.

 Clear and consistent rules that enhance maritime safety and best preserve what is important to Alaskans will benefit the entire Arctic region now and far into the future, reports ADN.

Experts forecast that the volume of cargo coming through that route is likely to increase from 1.36 million tons in 2013 to 4 million tons this year and 65 million tons by 2020. But despite some recent progress, ships are not yet required to follow strong safety and environmental standards in the Arctic.
The fragile and increasingly ice-free waters of the Arctic are expected to benefit from tougher environmental rules. 
The International Maritime Organization is a UN-sponsored body that sets shipping rules for oceans. Last fall, it gave preliminary approval to a series of environmental measures. The IMO Polar Code strengthens the standards for ships operating in Arctic and Antarctic waters
When the code goes into effect in 2017, ships traveling in the Arctic will have to meet certain ice classifications and have on board specially trained ice navigators. The measures also include limits on how much oil, noxious materials, sewage, and trash a vessel may dump at sea. 
There are also opportunities to develop strong “rules of the road” for U.S.-regulated vessels traveling in this sensitive region.
Such measures would be important steps toward sound governance of a narrow strait that poses risks to mariners and is home to active subsistence communities, large bird colonies, and marine mammals.
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