K. Joseph Spears in this article for the Canadian Sailings Arctic Shipping Special Feature explores  the development of Arctic shipping and the Polar Code.  It is an important shipping topic since many commentators and environmental groups view the Code as a complete solution to the risks created in Arctic shipping both from an operator’s standpoint and protection of the unique Arctic marine environment.

In an earlier article, Mr. Spears argues that Canada is an Arctic nations, and as a nation we need to look at the Arctic from a global perspective so we can identify and seize political, international, and commercial opportunities in the region in the 21st century.


The IMO, Arctic Shipping and the Polar Code

The International Maritime Oraganization’s Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment, a specialized committee consisting of a variety of technical experts from the government and the private sector has been tasked with coordinating this work, reporting to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) and Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) set up as part of the IMO process which develops the international shipping conventions and takes into account both governance and commercial interests.

This follows along from the adoption in 2009 by the IMO Assembly of a resolution to address additional provisions deemed necessary for consideration beyond existing requirements of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) for Arctic shipping. These two international conventions govern all Convention ships worldwide. A Convention ship is usually over 300 gross tonnes, which essentially includes all commercial bulk cargo, container vessels and marine tanker.