Polar protection measures put on ice
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has postponed until 2013 the development of environment protection guidelines to regulate shipping in polar waters. Environment groups have repeatedly expressed concern about the grave risks posed by increased shipping to the fragile ecosystems in the Arctic. Friends of the Earth US and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society see the delay as a major setback in efforts to protect polar waters. The delay was caused by formal objections from the “flag states”, i.e. those who allow ships to sail under their flags and are so responsible for ensuring they keep to international shipping regulations. Most of the countries which have Arctic territory and most of the signatories to the Antarctic Treaty are in favour of measures to protect the environment in these regions. Shipping in polar areas is becoming easier as climate change melts ice. The Arctic in particular is opening up increasingly to shipping and the hunt for natural resources, including oil and gas.
Environmental restrictions could help to minimize the impact of harmful substances like oil, chemicals or waste water in polar regions. They would also limit the impact on local coastal communities and on wildlife.
DateMarch 1, 2012 | 11:53 am