Arctic Options supports global policy efforts for safe ship operations in the Arctic

National Geographic Explorer.  Photo Credit: Paul A. Berkman

As ice cover in the Arctic Ocean diminishes, anticipation of increased shipping activities grows. In response, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is developing a mandatory International Code of Safety for ships operating in polar waters, commonly known as the Polar Code.

Arctic Options: Holistic Integration for Arctic Coastal Marine Sustainability is a three-year collaboration funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and led by University of California, Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) and the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management.

In the context of the Polar Code, the IMO along with the Arctic Options and the Arctic Climate Change, Economy and Society (ACCESS) projects, co-convened a “Workshop on Safe Ship Operations in the Arctic Ocean" on February 28, 2014 at the IMO Headquarters in London. The IMO Secretary-General, Mr. Koji Sekimizu, delivered the opening remarks. (IMO Circular and Workshop Agenda)

“The IMO workshop was a great opportunity for Arctic Options researchers to strengthen their science-policy connections,” said Frank Davis, NCEAS Director. “An important part of NCEAS’ mission is supporting and advancing science relevant to decision-makers.”

The workshop provided an international, interdisciplinary, and inclusive forum for a diverse group of experts to exchange information on issues and strategies for safe shipping in the extreme conditions of the Arctic Ocean. More that 100 people participated, representing 70 organizations including representatives from the IMO, Arctic Council, and International Hydrographic Organization; Arctic commercial shipping and tourism companies; the scientific community, as well as indigenous peoples organizations and Arctic residents, all of whom are well acquainted with the impacts and opportunities of shipping in the Arctic Ocean.

“The Workshop at the IMO was convened to reveal questions and options that relate to safe ship operations in the Arctic Ocean without advocacy, bias, or agendas that are commonly encountered with recommendations,” said Paul Berkman, Bren School of Environmental Science & Management.

Four members of the Arctic Options project team presented materials at the workshop:

  • Prof. Paul Berkman, as moderator, he opened the first session and described the Arctic Options project;
  • Prof. Lawson Brigham (University of Alaska Fairbanks) presented on Arctic Ocean economic opportunities;
  • Prof. Jean Claude Gascard (Université Marie et Pierre Curie) lead a discussion on sustaining Arctic Observing Networks;
  • Prof. Oran Young (UCSB Bren School) discussed governance issues and institutional interplay in the Arctic Ocean.

Presentations for Workshop on Safe Ship Operations in the Arctic

UCSB News Release

For more information on Arctic Options

For more information on recent developments on the Polar Code


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Posted on February 24, 2014