IMO to implement Arctic shipping code by 2016

  • Mandatory code for shipping in the polar region will govern all ‘technical requirements covering design and operations’

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has this week announced that it expects a code regulating Arctic shipping to be in place by 2016.

Arctic sea ice is melting rapidly, and within the next decade the effects of global warming is anticipated to transform the polar region into a seasonally navigable ocean. As a result shipping along the northern sea route is expected to grow 30-fold in just eight years and could account for as much as a quarter of cargo traffic between Europe and Asia.

“We are preparing a mandatory code for polar navigation,” said IMO secretary general Koji Sekimizu.

“It will be operational in 2015 (and) will probably be implemented in 2016.”

The announcement was made at the Oslo 2013 Maritime Summit, coordinated by the Norwegian Government and attended by Ministers and senior officials from Greece, Japan, Norway, Russia, Singapore, United States and the European Commission. The Summit underlined the need for government and industry cooperation in order to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the Arctic in a way that reconciles the need for both environmental and economic sustainability.

“A new code will govern all technical requirements covering design and operations,” Sekimizu told Reuters.

“It will ensure the competence of seafarers … We will ensure that unless we have trained competent seafarers on board to navigate, then that vessel cannot be allowed to navigate.”

The Summit concluded by emphasising the importance of governments and ship-owners, as represented by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), co-operating to ensure that the draft IMO Polar Code is adopted and implemented as soon as possible.

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