IMO has adopted the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code) and related amendments to make it mandatory under both the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). The Polar Code entered into force on 1 January 2017. This marks an historic milestone in the Organization’s work to protect ships and people aboard them, both seafarers and passengers, in the harsh environment of the waters surrounding the two poles.
The Polar Code (click for full text) is intended to cover the full range of shipping-related matters relevant to navigation in waters surrounding the two poles – ship design, construction and equipment; operational and training concerns; search and rescue; and, equally important, the protection of the unique environment and eco-systems of the polar regions.
Only vessels that intend to operate within the Arctic and Antarctic areas as defined in the Polar Code need to comply with the code. The areas are as follows (also see map on the right):
- Arctic: In general north of 60° N but limited by a line from Greenland; south at 58° - north of Iceland, southern shore of Jan Mayen - Bjørnøya – Cap Kanin Nos.
- Antarctic: South of 60° S.
Ships constructed on or after 1 January 2017 shall comply with the safety part of Polar Code at delivery.
Ships constructed before 1 January 2017 shall comply with the safety part of the Polar Code by the first intermediate or renewal survey, whichever occurs first, after 1 January 2018.
The environmental part of the Polar Code applies to all ships certified under MARPOL Annexes I, II, IV and V respectively. Existing and new ships certified under MARPOL shall comply with the environmental requirements by 1 January 2017. This means that fishing vessels (that carry MARPOL certificates) will also have to comply with the environmental part of the code, although not carrying any SOLAS certificates.
Text from DNV.
PAME and the Polar Code
In 2009, PAME released the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA) which recommended that the Arctic States cooperatively support efforts at the IMO to augment global ship safety and pollution prevention conventions with specific Arctic requirements. This recommendation was further complemented by Arctic Council Ministers issuing a declaration “encourag[ing] active cooperation within the [IMO] on development of relevant measures to reduce the environmental impacts of shipping in Arctic waters.” More recent Arctic Council Declarations, including the Iqaluit Declaration (2015) and the Fairbanks Declaration (2017), contain similar calls for closer collaboration between the Arctic Council and the IMO on issues of Arctic shipping remains.Since 2012, the PAME has consistently encouraged the timely implementation of the Polar Code, and now that the Code is in force, encourages Arctic and Observers States to continue to work towards a harmonized and effective implementation. Complementing these calls to action, PAME is also developing a Polar Code information brochure, and has created the Arctic Shipping Best Practices Information Forum to assist with implementation of the Polar Code.
The Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum
PAME's establishment of the Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum is in response to the Polar Code. The aim of the Forum is to raise awareness of its provisions amongst all those involved in or potentially affected by Arctic marine operations and to facilitate the exchange of information and best practices between the Forum members on specific shipping topics, including but not limited to; hydrography, search and rescue logistics, industry guidelines and ship equipment, systems and structure. A publicly accessible web-portal will be created with information specific to each topic.
More on the Forum here.
International Conference on Harmonized implementation of the Polar Code
The Finnish Transport Safety Agency (Traf)i organised together with PAME an international Polar Code conference as part of Finland’s Chairmanship programme in February 2018. At this conference, the Arctic Council member states, seafarers and industry representatives shared their experiences of Polar Code implementation during the first year of its enhancement. The conference website is available here.
Session I Introduction, session moderated by Dr. Anita Mäkinen (Finnish Transport Safety Agency)
- Welcoming Address by Mr. Harri Pursiainen, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport and Communications
- Priorities for the Finnish Chairmanship of the Arctic Council by Mr. Aleksi Härkönen, Arctic Ambassador and SAO Chair, Ministry for Foreign Affairs
- Key note address by the International Maritime Organization´s (IMO) Secretary-General, Mr. Kitack Lim
- Key note speech by Mr. Petteri Taalas, Secretary General of WMO, Implementing the Polar Code: The role of WMO
- The application of the Polar Code in the Russian Federation by Mr. Viktor Olersky, Debuty Minister of Transport
- Implementation of the Polar Code – experiences and challenges, a Norwegian perspective by Ms. Siv Christin Gaalaas, Specialty Director, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries
- U.S. Implementation of the Polar Code by Mr. Jeffrey G. Lantz, Director, U.S. Coast Guard
- Challenges of the Implementation of the Polar Code within the Canadian Arctic by Mr. Donald Roussel, Associate Assistant Deputy Minister of Transport, Transport Canada
Session III Challenges of the Implementation of the Polar Code for Seafarers, session moderated by Rob Hindley (Aker Arctic Technology Inc)
- The role of Classification Society in Polar Ship Certification by Mr. Seppo Liukkonen, DNVGL Station Manager Helsinki, Finland
- Experiences of the cruise industry with the implementation of the Polar Code by Ms. Kierstin M.Del Valle, Manager, Maritime Policy with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)
- Polar Code vs. 245 years of Arctic shipping experience by Mr. Verner Hammeken, CEO of Royal Arctic Line (RAL)
- Introduction of the Arctic Shipping Best Practices Information Forum by Anita Mäkinen, Chair of the Forum, Hjalti Þór Hreinsson (PAME Secretariat) and Michael Kingston (Managing Director of Michael Kingston Associates)
Session IV Identified challenges and future solutions, session moderated by Rob Hindley (Aker Arctic Technology Inc)
- Launch of the Arctic Council Polar Code Project by Finland and the Russian Federation by Dr. Anita Mäkinen and Harbour Master Alexander B. Volkov
IMO in the polar environment: the Polar Code explained
Infographics from IMO: