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Arctic Yearbook 2012
The Future of Arctic Shipping Along the Transpolar Sea Route
that a port state can exercise its right to undertake investigations and institute proceedings, if
considered relevant, with regard to pollution violations even on the high seas from any vessel, which
voluntarily entered its port. Additionally several regional memoranda of understanding (MoU) on
port state control regulate the inspection of vessels entering and visiting a port between different
maritime authorities, which should ensure compliance with the international standards listed in the
relevant MoU. For ships navigating within the Arctic Circle, the Paris MoU is potentially significant,
as it applies to all Arctic states excluding the US (VanderZwaag et. al., 2008).
This memorandum
could provide the enforcement framework of the IMO’s envisaged Polar Code. As Jensen (2008)
noted, effective port state control would need to enforce compulsory rules, specifically dedicated to
the Arctic region and the higher regulatory standards applicable to the area. Iceland, as a potential
trans-shipment hub, could play a decisive role in the implementation of port state control measures.
Yet Arctic marine shipping could potentially also be influenced by an expansion of maritime
boundaries and a consequent extension of coastal states’ sovereign rights as a result of the process of
extending the limits of the continental shelf, based upon recommendations of the Commission on
the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). The Arctic Ocean’s seabed would be divided into a large
area of national jurisdiction and a smaller area of international jurisdiction, regulated by the
International Seabed Authority (ISA). Although hydrocarbon resource exploitation outside the EEZ
of any Arctic coastal state is highly unlikely for years to come, potential installations could hamper
shipping on recognized sea lanes and would need to be installed in accordance with UNCLOS and
its relevant articles, e.g. Article 80 and Article 147.
In May 2011 the Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the
Arctic, the first binding agreement negotiated under the auspice of the Arctic Council, was signed at
the Council’s ministerial meeting in Nuuk, Greenland. The agreement’s objective is to strengthen
search and rescue coordination and cooperation efforts in the Arctic. Hence, the instrument allocates
specific search and rescue regions for each Arctic state, covering the entire Arctic Ocean, including
the navigational channels of the TSR and imposes detailed legal search and rescue obligations on the
Arctic states.
The TSR’s legal situation is considerably less complex than that of the NWP and NSR as it lies
outside any Arctic coastal state’s national jurisdiction. Regulations for shipping on high seas and
specific guidelines related to Arctic shipping already provide a regulatory framework for the region