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Arctic Yearbook 2012
Humpert and Raspotnik
subject to global shipping safety, security and environmental rules and standards” (VanderZwaag et
al., 2008: 12).
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) exercises a key role in the implementation of the
Convention’s international regulation. It also coordinates matters concerning maritime safety and the
prevention and control of vessel-source pollution. Arctic shipping via the TSR will be regulated in
accordance with the two main IMO treaties, SOLAS 1974
and MARPOL 1973/1978
and several
other IMO instruments, e.g. among others, COLREG 1972
, London Convention 1972
and STCW
Convention 1978/1995
. Additionally the IMO has already adopted Guidelines for Ships Operating
in Arctic Ice-covered Waters
and Guidelines for Ships Operating in Polar Waters
recommendatory in nature, and is currently in the progress of developing a mandatory Polar Code
with a targeted completion date of 2014 (IMO Report DE 56/25, 28 February 2012: Annex 16).
The code aims to supplement the mandatory construction and operation requirements of SOLAS,
MARPOL, and other relevant IMO conventions, by taking into account the significant risks in polar
waters, including both Arctic and Antarctic waters (IMO Report DE 56/10/1: Annex 1). The related
discussions at the IMO include a number of different submissions and considerations involving all
eight Arctic states, influential non-Arctic states and observers from intergovernmental organizations,
e.g. the European Commission and non-governmental organizations. A report by the responsible
correspondence group, led by Norway, emphasized that all sections are still under debate and that
further discussion is needed (IMO Report DE 56/10/1). The US, supported by other delegations, is
particularly concerned that the code could provide an international legal basis for Canadian and
Russian regulations on the ship reporting and vessel traffic service system in Canada’s claimed Arctic
waters and requirements for ships navigating along the NSR (IMO Report DE 55/22: Section 12). In
that regard an interesting scenario arises: could this implied legal justification positively affect the
future of the TSR? Any answers remain highly speculative at present. Despite any controversy that
may arise during the negotiations of international binding agreements, the code will ensure that the
same set of standards, regulations, and rules apply to commercial navigation in the above-mentioned
waters. Hence, it can be assumed that an already adopted mandatory Polar Code will regulate future
shipping across the TSR as soon as this option is possible.
Port state control can also play a decisive role in the prevention, control, and reduction of maritime
pollution across the TSR, as each port state has the authority under general international law to
impose conditions on the entry of foreign ships into its ports. UNCLOS’ Article 218 (1) stipulates