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Arctic Yearbook 2012
Shipping and Resources in the Arctic Ocean
the volume of this traffic has been limited and is fairly recent. As a connecting corridor of active
seasonal use, the FC belongs at best to the long-term future, but ice and navigation conditions are in
steady improvements for more active use.
Both Denmark and Norway have established 200 nautical miles zones in the Svalbard/Greenland
area. Those zones overlapped with some 150 000 sq km. In 2006, the two countries reached an
agreement to delimit the disputed area on the basis of the median line principle (Overenskomst,
2006). The shelf area outside of 200 nautical miles north of the Fram Strait has not yet been
delimited between the two countries.
The Davis Corridor
The “Davis Corridor” (DC) is not a formal name depicting an established transport route between
adjacent countries. It is used as a label for the purpose of this article, borrowing its name from the
Davis Strait which separates Greenland and Baffin Island with depths varying between 350 m and
3600 m. The Strait is known for its fierce tides ranging from 30 to 60 feet, which discouraged many
early explorers. A cold ocean current of heavy ice runs southward along the banks of Baffin Island
emptying itself into the Labrador Sea in the North Atlantic at speeds of 8 to 20 km a day. This makes
the northern part of the Labrador Sea ice-infested and similar to the waters of the FC. The DC
includes the Davis Strait and the Labrador Sea and extends southward connecting to the western
branch of the NMC. It includes the whole of the North American East Coast and passes four
national territories – Greenland, Canada, Iceland and the United States.
Shipping through the Corridor is modest, counting between 100 to 200 vessels a year. It is seasonal
and mostly conducted by Danish, Greenlandic and Canadian vessels. Since 2002 the amount of sea
ice in the Strait has decreased, and today there is open water available all year round making
commercial activities possible (Danmarks miljøundersøkelse, 2012). The Strait has a fairly long
history of large-scale commercial fisheries (trawling for scallops, pollock and cod) and has also been
subjected to petroleum prospecting.
There have not been any serious political attempts to establish a cooperative corridor in these waters.
The present level of shipping activity is most likely handled sufficiently effective by the informal
cooperation that already takes place between the bordering countries.