With the melting of Arctic sea ice, the predictions for the shipping sector in the Arctic have radically changed. The Northern Sea Route and the North West Passage could become major trading routes in the near future. Transports between Europe and Asia could be cut by up to 40 % in costs and time. The Arctic maritime traffic will most likely be dominated by transit shipping of natural resources from the Arctic region to the world market.
But is the Arctic prepared for this increase in Arctic shipping? Are the shipping routes, lighthouses, radar systems and Search and Rescue capacities in order for increased shipping activities? How are the ice conditions and how do they change over time? How much of the investments shall be covered by the states and how much could the contribution of the companies operating in the Arctic be? Could the maritime sector agree on an Arctic Marine Best Practice Declaration to make the future of the Arctic shipping more sustainable?
With the aim to come closer on how to shape sustainable shipping in the Arctic, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Sweden, the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat and the Embassy of Sweden organized a one day conference on 11 March 2014. Among other speakers, IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu spoke on "IMO and the Polar Code" at the Conference on Sustainable Arctic Shipping and Marine Operations, held in London yesterday.
A day after the conference, a separate workshop will be held on 12th March at Lloyd's ''Bridging the Arctic marine risk gap - The need for a cross Arctic Ice Regime - linking ice conditions to ice class requirements'', will focus on the risks from operating in ice with a particular focus on the gap between the different rules and regulations of the IACS Polar Class Rules, the (draft) IMO Polar Code and the lack of a pan-Arctic benchmark for determining when different ice class requirements apply.
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