ECSA Backs EU Polar Shipping Policy

European Community Shipowners’ Association (ECSA) has adopted a position paper endorsing a number of actions by the European Union that are expected to improve polar shipping conditions.

Earlier this year, European shipowners welcomed the adoption of the integrated European Union policy for the Arctic region. The policy aims to establish a coherent and comprehensive approach to matters where the Arctic region has an impact on the EU and vice versa.

“We believe that the three priority areas identified cover all topical Arctic matters. Climate change and environment, sustainable development and international cooperation all deserve equal attention”, Patrick Verhoeven, ECSA Secretary General, said.

ECSA said it appreciates that the EU supports the efforts to implement the International Code for ships operating in polar waters (Polar Code) as adopted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The Polar Code, which will enter into force on January 2017, is mandatory and uniform regulation which ensures a level playing field. It is expected to boost the level of confidence in the safety and environmental performance of shipping.

“We do expect polar shipping to grow in volume in the coming years and are indeed pleased that precautions have been taken to ensure safety of life at sea. The sustainability of this highly sensitive environment cannot be compromised,” Verhoeven added.

“While the IMO remains the prime regulator for the shipping industry, we appreciate that the EU supports the efforts to implement the Polar Code. We also endorse the actions included in the policy that will concretely improve polar shipping conditions and help overcome the challenges we are confronted with in the area,” Verhoeven further said.

European shipowners believe that the EU could add value mainly in five areas – development of critical maritime infrastructure, increase of knowledge for the region, protection of the Arctic climate, coordination with the Arctic States by recognizing their special responsibilities and increase of awareness about operators’ contribution to the development of the area.

Furthermore, ECSA said it appreciates the focus of the EU to the Arctic matters by developing more coherent framework for EU action and funding programs in the Arctic.

Founded in 1965, ECSA represents the interest of the national shipowners’ associations of the EU and Norway. European shipowners are said to control 40% of the global commercial fleet.

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