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IMO must have the final say in Arctic regulations, says ICS

New regulatory standards for Arctic ship operations must be agreed at the IMO, and not by individual nations, ICS has stressed at an Oslo summit.

The group highlighted the risks posed if coastal states are free to circumvent IMO, imposing discriminatory regulations or service fees disproportionately penalising vessels flagged elsewhere. “The IMO is the appropriate forum for developing standards for ships operating in the Arctic as it has the necessary legal and technical expertise to take full account of the interests of all maritime nations including those with an Arctic coastline.”

Shipping needs greater clarity on the legal status of Arctic waters as determined by the UN Law of the Sea, argued secretary general Peter Hinchliffe, arguing that the UNCLOS regime of ‘transit passage’ for straits used in international navigation takes precedence over the rights of coastal states to enact unilateral measures against international shipping. “As remote Arctic sea routes become accessible these once academic issues are becoming increasingly important.”

The group also stressed the IMO’s key role in reducing shipping’s carbon emissions, given that shipping is the only industrial sector already covered by a binding agreement, at IMO, to cut CO2. ICS pointed to a recent IMO study on greenhouse gases showing the industry had decreased total emissions by more than 10% between 2007 and 2012.

Posted 12 March 2015

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