Ahead of the entry into force of the International Code for ships operating in polar waters, or the Polar Code, in January 2017, the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) highlighted challenges that shipowners encounter while operating in polar waters.
In light of reports that the traffic on the Northern Sea Route or the Arctic Ocean is expected to increase in the coming years, Patrick Verhoeven, ECSA’s Secretary General, said that it is “unrealistic to believe that the Arctic will be immediately accessible as the sea ice disappears.”
Verhoeven added that there are many other challenges that shipowners encounter, such as polar darkness, poor charts, lack of critical infrastructure and navigation control systems and low search and rescue capability.
As ninety percent of everything bought is currently transported by ships, polar shipping is expected to grow in volume following the code’s entry into force.
The Polar Code, which applies to ships operating in Arctic and Antarctic waters, is expected to ensure safety of life at sea, according to Verhoeven, as well as protect the sustainability of these highly sensitive environments.
“The Polar Code of the International Maritime Organisation entering into force on January 2017 is mandatory and uniform regulation which ensures a level playing field. It will boost the level of confidence in the safety and environmental performance of shipping,” he concluded.
The infographic below shows how the Polar Code protects the environment, covering requirements and recommendations relating to oil, sewage, garbage, chemicals and invasive species.
Infographic Courtesy: IMO