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Home* News and Stories → IMO: polar code not befo­re 2015

IMO: polar code not befo­re 2015

The IMO (Inter­na­tio­nal Mari­ti­me Orga­niza­ti­on) is an agen­cy of the UN to pro­du­ce a legal frame­work that con­trols mari­ti­me acti­vi­ty glo­bal­ly. Work on a polar code has star­ted years ago to ensu­re safe­ty of ship­ping in polar waters. Aspects of the polar code touch various fields such as the con­s­truc­tion of ships, safe­ty equip­ment and qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons of Cap­ta­ins and nau­ti­cal offi­cers, to men­ti­on a few. The envi­ron­ment is an important major focus.

The mat­ter is com­plex and part­ly con­tro­ver­si­al. A decis­i­on will not be made in 2012 as ori­gi­nal­ly sche­du­led, but is now expec­ted for late 2014. The slow pro­cess is cri­ti­zi­sed by envi­ron­men­tal orga­nis­za­ti­ons. The pro­no­un­ced increase of ship traf­fic espe­ci­al­ly of car­go ships and oil tan­kers in cer­tain are­as such as the nor­thwest and nor­the­ast pas­sa­ge (Canada/Alaska, Rus­sia) gives inde­ed reason for envi­ron­men­tal con­cerns. On the other hand, natio­nal govern­ments can alre­a­dy imple­ment important legis­la­ti­on in many are­as. The Nor­we­gi­an has intro­du­ced an envi­ron­men­tal­ly important ban on hea­vy oil in Spits­ber­gen in recent years. A simi­lar ban is in force in Ant­ar­c­ti­ca sin­ce August 2011.

Part of the dis­cus­sion is a gene­ral ban on all ships that are older than a cer­tain year such as 1996. If such a dra­stic step, which would have dra­stic con­se­quen­ces for many ships, would be equal­ly bene­fi­ci­al for safe­ty and envi­ron­ment, is in many cases con­tro­ver­si­al. In the past, smal­ler ice-going ves­sels were often built very stron­gly. It would most­ly be dif­fi­cult or impos­si­ble to replace such ves­sels ade­qua­te­ly.

The com­ple­xi­ty of the who­le mat­ter is increased by the fact that it con­cerns huge are­as with a wide diver­si­ty of all kinds of con­di­ti­ons. The west coast of Spits­ber­gen, for exam­p­le, is ice-free for most of the year and usual­ly easi­ly acces­si­ble for all kinds of ships. The use of ice­brea­k­ers in this area, which is small but has a lot of local traf­fic, would be a gre­at and envi­ron­men­tal­ly con­tra­pro­duc­ti­ve was­te of fuel and resour­ces. The near-by nor­the­as­tern cor­ner of Green­land is in con­trast one of the are­as with the most seve­re ice con­di­ti­ons on the pla­net even in sum­mer and can only be rea­ched with hea­vy ice­brea­k­ers. Simi­lar regio­nal dif­fe­ren­ces exist in Ant­ar­c­ti­ca, as is made clear by the com­pa­ri­son bet­ween the ice-free nor­thwes­tern area of the Ant­ar­c­tic Pen­in­su­la with the ice-cover­ed cen­tral Wed­dell and Ross Seas.

The Swe­dish ice­brea­k­er Oden at the west coast of Spits­ber­gen (June 2008, with the 3 heirs to the Scan­di­na­vi­an thro­nes on board).

IMO polar code not before 2015 - data-lazy-src=

The small Swe­dish ship Stock­holm, here at the north coast of Spits­ber­gen, was built in 1953 and is thus one of the oldest ships that is regu­lar­ly sai­ling in the­se waters, but also one of the most robust ones.

MS Stockholm

Sources: IMO, taz

By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the title “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (3): Die Bären­in­sel und Jan May­en”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!

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last modification: 2014-07-01 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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