Exploring the Northern Dimension

NDI BACKGROUND PAPER 2: Polar Code and other measures to improve safety of shipping in the Arctic

Summary: The International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters, better known as the “Polar Code”, came into force on 1 January 2017 to improve safety for ship operations in remote waters of the polar regions. It was developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as a legally binding international framework that builds on existing mandatory regulations set by IMO in the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). The goal for implementing the Polar Code is “to provide for safe ship operation and the protection of the polar environment by addressing risks present in polar waters and not adequately mitigated by other instruments of the Organization” [10].

This paper gives an overview of how the regulations have contributed to enhancing the safety of ship operations and mitigating environmental risks in the Arctic. At the time of writing (November 2020), the Polar Code has been in force for more than three years, so it is timely to assess how its implementation has affected safety of shipping and how it takes environmental issues into account. We identify a number of issues that hamper the effective implementation of the Polar Code, including inadequate maritime infrastructure in the Arctic, discrepancy between national requirements and those of the Polar Code, and too descriptive requirements concerning, for example, survival equipment and resources. Other areas that need improvement relate to the training of ship crews, and to the bringing the environmental regulation for marine traffic in the Arctic to the same level as in the Antarctic waters. We further examine additional ways of ensuring the safety of polar shipping and protecting polar waters in the era of increasing marine operations, taking into account the on-going work of IMO. 

Read more and download the Background Paper here (link).

For more information, please contact the author:
Svetlana Kuznetsova, Northern Arctic Federal University, Arkhangelsk, Russia, s.kuznecova [a] narfu.ru

Tags: Environment, Publication

This website generates, gathers and disseminates knowledge and information on the Northern Dimension. The website is maintained by the Northern Dimension Institute (NDI), which is an open network community of universities and research institutes.

If you wish to contribute to the website, please contact our team!

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Follow us

Website development and maintenance is co-funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and the European Commission.

  • EU
  • Ministry For Foreign Affairs