Maritime Tasks and Challenges in the Arctic

  • Andreas ØsthagenEmail author


The Arctic is changing. Although maritime conditions vary across this vast region, increased activity from state and non-state actors alike are challenging the littoral northern states. This chapter takes a look at the changes occurring in the Arctic, specifically focusing on the contrasts between the North American and European Arctic regions, using Greenland, Canada and Norway as examples. The overall trend has been that the number of maritime vessels has increased steadily since the 1990s, while vessel activity is becoming more complex, diverse, and spread-out. The end of this chapter turns to the need for coast guard tasks and what these entails.


Arctic Arctic maritime activity Shipping Fisheries Coast guard tasks 


  1. Borch, Odd Jarl, Natalia Andreassen, and Nataly Marchenko. 2016a. ‘The Norwegian Waters and Svalbard Sea Areas and Activity Level Up to 2025.’ In Maritime Activity in the High North—Current and Estimated Level Up to 2025, vol. 1, 39–73. Bodø: MARPART Projects Reports.Google Scholar
  2. Borch, Odd Jarl, Natalia Andreassen, Nataly Marchenko, Valur Ingimundarson, Halla Gunnarsdóttir, Iurii Iudin, Sergey Petrov, Uffe Jacobsen, and Birita í Dali. 2016b. Maritime Activity in the High North—Current and Estimated Level Up to 2025, 1–130. Bodø: MARPART Projects Reports.Google Scholar
  3. Brigham, Lawson W. 2013. ‘The Fast-Changing Maritime Arctic.’ In The Fast-Changing Arctic: Rethinking Arctic Security for a Warmer World, edited by Barry Scott Zellen, 1–17. Calgary, AB: Calgary University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Byers, Michael. 2016. ‘Arctic Cruises: Fun for Tourists, Bad for the Environment.’ The Globe and Mail, April 18.
  5. Cohen, Tobi. 2010. ‘Canadian Rescue Capacity Questioned in the Wake of Arctic Ship Grounding.’ Canada.Com News, August 29.
  6. Conley, Heather A., Matthew Melino, and Andreas Østhagen. 2017. Maritime Futures: The Arctic and the Bering Strait Region. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  7. Danish Ministry of Defence. 2011. ‘Rapport Vedrørende Placering Af Værnsfælles Arktisk Kommando [Report Concerning the Location of Arctic Command].’ Danish Ministry of Defence, Copenhagen.ærnsfaelles_Arktisk_Kommando.pdf.
  8. ———. 2016. Forsvarsministeriets Fremtidige Opgaveløsning i Arktis [Future Missions of the Danish Ministry of Defence in the Arctic]. Copenhagen, Denmark.Google Scholar
  9. Evans, Pete. 2012. ‘Arctic Thaw Heats Up Northwest Passage Dreams.’ CBC News: Business, September 13.
  10. Goegebeur, Brynn. 2014. ‘Canadian Arctic Search and Rescue: An Assessment.’ November.
  11. Gosnell, Rachael. 2018. ‘The Complexities of Arctic Maritime Traffic.’ The Arctic Institute, January 30.
  12. Humpert, Malte. 2014. Arctic Shipping: An Analysis of the 2013 Northern Sea Route Season. October 20. Washington DC: The Arctic Institute.
  13. Ingimundarson, Valur, Halla Gunnarsdóttir, Uffe Jacobsen, and Birita í Dali. 2016. ‘The Icelandic Sea Areas and Activity Level Up to 2025.’ In Maritime Activity in the High North—Current and Estimated Level Up to 2025, Vol. 1, 74–86. Bodø: MARPART Projects Reports.Google Scholar
  14. McGrath, Matt. 2016. ‘UK-Funded Ice Breaker in “Elite” Arctic Tourism Row.’ BBC News, June 17.
  15. Mitchell, James R. 2013. ‘The Canadian Coast Guard in Perspective.’ A Paper Prepared for Action Canada, Ottawa. August.
  16. Norwegian Government. 2017. Norway’s Arctic Strategy: Between Geopolitics and Social Development. Oslo.
  17. Norwegian Ministry of Justice. 2016. ‘Meld. St. 32 (2015–2016): Svalbard.’ Oslo.Google Scholar
  18. Office of the Auditor General of Canada. 2014. ‘ Marine Navigation in the Canadian Arctic.’ Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. Chapter 3. Office of the Auditor General of Canada, Ottawa.Google Scholar
  19. Østhagen, Andreas. 2014a. Coast Guard Collaboration in the Arctic: Canada and Greenland (Denmark). Toronto: Walter & Duncan Gordon Foundation.
  20. ———. 2014b. ‘Nye utfordringer i nord: Kystvakten i nordområdene [New Challenges in the North: The Coast Guard in the High North].’ Institutt for forsvarsstudier.
  21. ———. 2015. ‘Coastguards in Peril: A Study of Arctic Defence Collaboration.’ Defence Studies 15 (2): 143–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Østhagen, Andreas, and Vanessa Gestaldo. 2015. Coast Guard Co-operation in a Changing Arctic. Toronto: Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Program.
  23. Østhagen, Andreas, and Andreas Raspotnik. 2019. ‘Why Is the European Union Challenging Norway Over Snow Crab? Svalbard, Special Interests, and Arctic Governance.’ Ocean Development & International Law 50 (2–3): 190–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Schwartz, Karen. 2016. ‘As Global Warming Thaws Northwest Passage, a Cruise Sees Opportunity.’ New York Times, July 6.
  25. Vold, Johan N., Irene W. Basili, Hanna L. Behrens, Liv A. Hovem, Ole Arve Misund, Arild Moe, Gunnar Sander, Turid B. Stemre, and Kirsten Hammelbo. 2013. ‘Økt skipsfart i Polhavet: Muligheter og utfordringer for Norge [Increased Shipping in the Arctic Ocean: Opportunities and Challenges for Norway].’ Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. April. Oslo.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fridtjof Nansen InstituteLysakerNorway

Personalised recommendations