Implementation of the Polar Code: Functional Requirements Regulating Ship Operations in Polar Waters
In 2017, the The International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code) – a set of function-based regulations applicable to Arctic and Antarctic waters, with the goal of increasing awareness and improving safety for ship operations in polar waters – entered into force. This article examines the Polar Code’s contribution to the establishment of new standards and guidelines, with the problem under discussion being the extent to which the function-based regulations contribute to enhancing safety for ship operations in the Arctic, given that maritime activities in these waters are associated with great risks and uncertainties. The article gives a historical review, elucidating the background leading to the development of the Polar Code, followed by a review of the structure and key principles of the regulations. Further, ship traffic in the Arctic region and those subject to the Polar Code are examined, followed by a summary of findings and experiences from three survival exercises (SARex I, II and III), performed in northern areas around Svalbard between 2016 and 2018. The article concludes that safe ship operations depend on those subject to the regulations conducting thorough operational risk assessments that cover all potential hazards, in order to mitigate sufficiently. Further, the presence of authorities is found to be crucial, with validation of the adequacy and the dimensioning of the implemented measures being of the essence.
Copyright (c) 2020 Espen Engtrø, Ove Tobias Gudmestad, Ove Njå
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Authors contributing to The Arctic Review on Law and Politics retain copyright to their articles but agree to publish them under a Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0 License. The terms of this license permit third parties to freely copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, and to adapt, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially, as long as appropriate credit is given, a link to the license is provided, and any changes made are indicated. The foregoing may be done in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses the third party or their use.