Tuesday, 08 September 2015 - As part of London International Shipping Week, the IMarEST held a round table for invited participants to discuss ‘Safety and Sustainability of Shipping and Offshore Activities in the Arctic’.
Global warming is particularly evident in the Arctic and the steady reduction of the Arctic sea ice has been well documented, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reporting that Arctic sea ice has thinned, that extent has decreased by 2.9% per decade over the 1978-1996 period and that there are now more melt days per summer.
There is broad consensus that this warming trend will continue and that the Arctic may eventually become ice-free during the summer. Aside from the broader global climate and environmental effects of such a warming, another consequence is the increased possibility of the opening up of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) for high volume commercial traffic, a likelihood of increased offshore activity and a higher volume of tourist activities.
Any increase in commercial activity is likely to bring with it associated risks to the environment, to assets and to people. This round table investigated the primary risks and aimed to answer a few key questions.
What are the major risks to assets, to the environment and to people?
How can those risks be assessed and prevented?
How can the risks be contained, managed and mitigated?
Is the policy and regulatory approach fit for purpose?
What other incentives could be used in order to make the overall process more effective?
Once a system of prevention and response/mitigation measures has been established, what would be the best approach to monitor progress of increased safety and environmental protection?