Demand Stricter Environmental Regulations on Shipping in the Arctic

Target: International Maritime Organization

Goal: Revise rules on shipping activity in the Arctic to address important environmental issues

A set of rules, designated as the Polar Code, has been officially created after members from the International Maritime Organization met in late March to discuss shipping regulations. Recommendations of the new code include provisions that address the environmental impacts of shipping in the Arctic. However, the World Wildlife Fund is suggesting that the existing provisions of the code are too weak and should be revised. Urge the International Maritime Organization to include the necessary additions to the Polar Code to address crucial environmental concerns.

Over the past few years, substantial increase in ship traffic throughout the Northern Sea Route has been reported. Because of the warming sea waters in the Arctic, these commercial routes have been opened up, mostly to accommodate bulk and tanker traffic.

Lars Erik Mangset, Advisor for World Wildlife Fund- Norway, states that the recommended provisions are too weak in that the most pressing environmental issues have been placed in the voluntary section of the code or have been completely neglected. In order for proper protection of waters to be ensured, the risks of operation should be equally paired with precautionary measures. For instance, prohibiting the use of heavy fuel oil in fragile areas would effectively reduce the environmental impacts of a potential spill.

Although the Polar Code is a legally binding set of rules, the finalization will not be implemented this year, giving Arctic countries the opportunity to make the essential improvements. Countries are already setting impressive precedents, including Canada’s zero-tolerance on oily discharge and other waste streams released from ships. Urge the International Maritime Organization to commit to full protection of environmental standards by enforcing the recommended provisions, banning heavy fuel use and carbon emissions in the Arctic.


Dear International Maritime Organization,

With the combination of ship traffic and warming sea temperatures, shipping traffic in waters above Russia and Scandinavia have been significantly increasing. This gives way to an increase in pollution discharge from the bulk and tanker ships navigating these waters.

Domestic and international legislation, including Canada and the Antarctic, have been setting important precedents regarding a zero- tolerance limit on the discharge of oil and other waste from ships. Therefore, I urge you to implement the more stringent provisions in favor of addressing important environmental issues upon finalization of the Polar Code.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Trine og Mads via Flickr

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