ICS: Uniform Arctic Shipping Rules Critical

As the volume of Arctic shipping gradually increases in response to new interest in developing the region’s natural resources, a mandatory and uniform regulatory framework to ensure maritime safety and environmental protection becomes critically important, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) said during the Economist Arctic Summit held yesterday in Oslo.

ICS highlighted that the shipping industry fully recognises the concern about the potential sensitivity of Arctic ecosystems and the need for a high degree of care when ships navigate Arctic waters.

ICS Secretary General Peter Hinchliffe said that the shipping industry is fully committed to the implementation of the mandatory IMO Polar Code, following its recent adoption by IMO Member States and its expected entry into force in January 2017.

”The Polar Code will deliver an even greater level of confidence in the environmental performance of shipping using a risk-based approach which addresses the hazards relevant to the type of ship operation, the ship’s location and the season of operation,” Hinchliffe said.

With respect to society’s concern about the negative impact of CO2 emissions on climate and the delicate environmental balance that exists within the Arctic region, ICS emphasises that shipping is the only industrial sector already covered by a binding global agreement, at the IMO, to reduce CO2 through technical and operational measures. According to the latest IMO Green House Gas Study published in 2014, the global shipping industry has reduced its total emissions by more than 10% between 2007 and 2012.

With regard to the future governance of Arctic waters, ICS believes that Arctic coastal states should avoid imposing discriminatory treatment that might prejudice the rights of ships registered with non-Arctic nations, and highlights the importance of appropriate fees for services.

ICS also suggested there is a need for greater clarity regarding the legal status of Arctic waters as determined by the UN Law of the Sea.

”As remote Arctic sea routes become accessible these once academic issues are becoming increasingly important,” Hinchliffe said, arguing 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 ship and offshore classification society DNV GL used the Arctic Summit platform to discuss safety issues within the offshore industry in the Barents Sea.

In its report, ‘Emergency response for offshore operations in the Barents Sea,’ DNV GL examined the feasibility of emergency preparedness solutions and called for the offshore industry to collaborate on new response concepts.