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Home* News and Stories → Polar Code: IMO regu­la­ti­ons for ship­ping in polar waters

Polar Code: IMO regu­la­ti­ons for ship­ping in polar waters

After seve­ral years of nego­tia­ti­ons the IMO (Inter­na­tio­nal Mari­ti­me Orga­niza­ti­on), the United Nati­ons ship­ping orga­niza­ti­on, com­ple­ted a man­da­to­ry inter­na­tio­nal code that regu­la­tes ship­ping in Arc­tic and Ant­ar­c­tic waters. The so-cal­led Polar Code is sup­po­sed to impro­ve the safe­ty of ship­ping and the pro­tec­tion of the envi­ron­ment in the polar regi­ons.

The Polar Code is a set of regu­la­ti­ons con­cer­ning ship design, con­s­truc­tion and equip­ment, ope­ra­tio­nal and trai­ning mat­ters, search and res­cue and the envi­ron­ment in the polar regi­ons. Envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion regu­la­ti­ons include for exam­p­le the pre­ven­ti­on of pol­lu­ti­on by pro­hi­bi­ting any dischar­ge into the sea of oil, noxious liquid sub­s­tances, sewa­ge and gar­ba­ge. A gene­ral pro­hi­bi­ti­on of hea­vy fuel oil as car­go or fuel, as deman­ded by envi­ron­men­tal orga­niza­ti­ons, could not be imple­men­ted. A hea­vy fuel oil ban alre­a­dy exists in the Ant­ar­c­tic sin­ce August 2011 and was imple­men­ted in seve­ral steps in lar­ge parts of Spits­ber­gen.

The geo­gra­phi­cal boun­da­ries in which the Polar Code will be valid, include the enti­re Ant­ar­c­tic waters south of 60º S and the Arc­tic waters north of 60º N with some modi­fi­ca­ti­ons in the North Atlan­tic: Included is an area south of Green­land. Excluded are, in the influence zone of the North Atlan­tic Cur­rent, the waters around Ice­land, Nor­way and the Rus­si­an Kola Pen­in­su­la inclu­ding the rou­te to Ark­han­gelsk.

The Polar Code is built on two older exis­ting agree­ments of the IMO: The Inter­na­tio­nal Con­ven­ti­on for the Safe­ty of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regu­la­tes safe­ty mat­ters and the Inter­na­tio­nal Con­ven­ti­on for the Pre­ven­ti­on of Pol­lu­ti­on from Ships (MAR­POL) regu­la­tes envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion mat­ters in mari­ti­me ship­ping. In addi­ti­on to the­se gene­ral agree­ments the IMO deve­lo­ped spe­cial gui­de­lines in 2002 and 2009 for the polar regi­ons which, howe­ver, were not bin­ding. The new Polar Code will now for the first time estab­lish a man­da­to­ry, inter­na­tio­nal set of regu­la­ti­ons for ships ope­ra­ting in Arc­tic and Ant­ar­c­tic waters.

The imple­men­ta­ti­on of a bin­ding agree­ment was initia­ted by the Arc­tic sta­tes USA, Nor­way and Den­mark (Green­land). The nego­tia­ti­on pro­cess took many years and was final­ly delay­ed, as the dif­fe­ring inte­rests of the United Nati­ons ship­ping sta­tes had to be equa­li­zed. Envi­ron­men­tal orga­niza­ti­ons cri­ti­ci­ze the delay and are curr­ent­ly poin­ting at defi­ci­ts con­cer­ning envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion mat­ters. On the other side the­re are still objec­tions of some sta­tes being invol­ved into the pro­cess. Espe­ci­al­ly Rus­sia sees the Polar Code as a thre­at to its inte­rests in the Arc­tic. Curr­ent­ly Rus­sia for exam­p­le gains pro­fit from the incre­asing traf­fic on the Nor­t­hern Sea Rou­te.

Accor­ding to the IMO´s time­ta­ble the Polar Code can be adopted at a mee­ting in May 2015 and then, after being rati­fied by the mem­ber sta­tes, final­ly enter into force in 2017.

See also Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com news IMO: polar code not befo­re 2015 from March 2012.

Crui­se ship, expe­di­ti­on ship and govern­men­tal ice­brea­k­er in Ant­ar­c­ti­ca: the IMO Polar Code will cover all of them.

Ships in Antarctica

Source: IMO, Sjøf­arts­di­rek­to­ra­tet



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last modification: 2014-11-08 · copyright: Rolf Stange