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Oslo hosts top-level Arctic shipping summit

Oslo hosts top-level Arctic shipping summit
Representatives from major shipping nations met with the secretary-general of the IMO and board members of the ICS to discuss Arctic shipping at a private ministerial-level summit held in Oslo this week.

Attending the Oslo 2013 Maritime Summit were delegations from China, Greece, Japan, Norway, Russia, Singapore and the US, as well as the European Commission, IMO and ICS. The event was hosted by the Norwegian government and Norwegian Shipowners' Association.

ICS chairman Masamichi Morooka voiced shipowners' concerns about "the importance of Arctic nations avoiding unilateral measures that might cut across IMO Conventions or the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea" (UNCLOS). ICS' priority was to work within IMO to assist with the completion and adoption by governments of the IMO Polar Code, expected to become mandatory in 2014, he said.

Morooka added ICS' belief that the Code should be "risk-based" so as to reflect the exact vessel type, location and season of operation. And he warned against any discrimination against ships registered with non-Arctic nations, and called for an appropriate level of fees for services.

"It was an extremely productive meeting," ICS secretary general Peter Hinchliffe told Seatrade, with governments, legislators and shipowners "largely speaking the same language, with the same understanding of the opportunities and challenges in the Arctic."

"My message is there should be free transits and global legislation,' said Alfons Guinier, secretary general of the European Community Shipowners' Association (ECSA). "We're looking forward to it, and it's an opportunity for many of our members as they already have experience of operating in the High North."

'The Asian Shipowners Forum welcomes better regulation of the Arctic if it helps shippers" ASF secretary-general Yuichi Sonoda told Seatrade. "The shipping industry cannot create demand – we always have to follow the cargoes. If there is a requirement by our shippers (for Arctic crossings) and they are ready to pay, we will seriously consider how to cope with this. But an important first step is that we need global legislation."