Arctic Policy Developments and Marine Transportation

  • Lawson W. BrighamEmail author


Arctic natural resource development is a major factor in the growth of marine traffic in the Arctic Ocean early in the twenty-first century. Marine transportation systems are needed to move these resources out of the Arctic by sea to global markets, and the most visible increases in marine operations and shipping are occurring along Russia’s Northern Sea Route. Arctic marine access is also changing in unprecedented ways with the profound retreat of Arctic sea ice in all seasons. In response to these extraordinary changes in the maritime Arctic, the Arctic states and maritime community at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) negotiated and approved a new Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (the Polar Code), a set of mandatory and uniform regulations to enhance marine safety and environmental protection that came fully into force in July 2018. The Arctic states have also signed two binding agreements or treaties that address Arctic search and rescue (SAR), and Arctic oil pollution. In the Arctic Council a major study, the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA), was conducted 2004–2009 providing a policy document for the Arctic states that focused on the protection of Arctic people and the marine environment. AMSA continues to be a valuable baseline assessment of Arctic marine use, a strategic guide to a host stakeholder, and a policy framework for the Arctic Council since the recommendations were negotiated by the Arctic states. Future Arctic marine policies and actions will be needed to address heavy fuel oil in Arctic waters, implementation and enforcement of the Polar Code, an Arctic Ocean emissions control zone, ship monitoring and surveillance systems, and a host of marine infrastructure challenges. The environmental security challenges of future Arctic navigation will require unprecedented cooperation in maritime affairs among the Arctic states, flag states, the people who live in the Arctic, and the global maritime enterprise.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA

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