Ilker K. Basaran

As the Arctic Ocean is becoming a busier place for shipping due to an unprecedented sea ice retreat and integration of the regional resources with the world economy, regulatory challenges for the protection and safety of the region become the top priority. According to the Arctic Council’s Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA) report “the greatest environmental threat presented by the marine shipping industry pertains to the release of oil into the Arctic waters” (AMSA, 2009). Given the magnitude of the threat and the lack of technology to clean up the spilled oil in the Arctic Ocean, it is not surprising that the prevention measures become the highest priority in Arctic marine environmental protection efforts. To this effect, the Arctic states, through Arctic Council, have already agreed on several legal instruments regionally. The IMO Polar Code has also brought various precautionary measures to avoid oil spills in the Arctic Ocean. However, the civil liability scheme in oil pollution has not been properly examined yet. Civil Liability regimes are not drafted in light of the Arctic’s unique environmental conditions and risks; therefore, they require adjustments according to the Arctic shipping realities that we face today.

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