Proactive environmental planning for emerging shipping routes in Arctic waters

Projected reductions in the extent and thickness of the seaice cover in the Arctic Ocean could substantially benefit shipping, perhaps opening the Arctic Ocean as a major trade route. However, despite the economic benefits of such changes, the emergence of such a route through the Arctic Ocean presents a number of challenges to Arctic coastal States and policy makers in general. Of particular concern is the potential for significant environmental damage. Historically, strong objections have been raised over restrictions on navigation for environmental purposes, on the grounds that these run counter to the freedom of navigation enshrined in international law. Notwithstanding this, a broad range of measures exist for those coastal States wishing to address the threat from shipping.An important element in the application of any protective measure is that it is targeted at the specific environmentally sensitive that it is designed to address. In the case of the Arctic it will be critical to determine those areas of vulnerability to shipping and to target specific measures for their protection. Such an approach will necessarily include a spatial analysis of both the environmentally vulnerable resources and the specific threat posed by shipping, as well as a complimentary analysis of the broad range of measures that are available to address such threats.This paper examines the range of tools that are available to Arctic coastal States to regulate and mitigate the impacts of shipping in Arctic waters. After detailing the threats posed by shipping in the Arctic marine environment this paper examines (i) the application of marine spatial planning as a tool for prioritising the protection of vulnerable marine environments from the shipping and (ii) the range of proactive measures that could be employed in the Arctic to ensure that such damage does not arise.


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  • Accession Number: 01609230
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 16 2016 9:19AM