IMG 3112The PAME working group held the first of its two annual meetings in Akureyri this week. The meeting began on Monday with pre-meetings between the expert groups, on shipping, ecosystem approach, oil and gas and marine protected areas. After a long day of meetings the PAME Secretariat walked with the group of around 60 participants to the location of the Secretariat for a cocktail. Traditional Icelandic food was served, along with "normal" food, and Icelandic local beer.

The PAME I 2015 officially began on Tuesday with the whole day devoted to updates to the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment. Updates to the Arctic Marine Strategic Plan 2015-2025 were also addressed. The evening saw the group taking an excursion to the Nature Baths near Lake Mývatn.

IMG 3128The Wednesday followed up the Tuesday meeting, addressing issues such as Arctic marine protected areas, the ecosystem approach and oil and gas regulations. In the afternoon the experts met again for further discussions before Record of Decisions were written by each expert group.

The meeting concluded on Thursday, covering issues such as the PAME 2015-2017 work plan and the Records of Decisions.

The PAME Secretariat thanks all the participants for an enjoyable and succesful meeting in Akureyri.

Please see the PAME Secretariat's Facebook page for more pictures.

A successful ABA congress

ABAThe Arctic Biodiversity Congress was held by CAFF in December. Its purpose was to promote the conservation and sustainable use of Arctic biodiversity through dialogue among scientists, policy-makers, government officials, industry, civil society and indigenous peoples.

CAFF released the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA) in 2013. One of the main goals of the Congress was to present and discuss the main scientific findings in the ABA.

ABA2Over 400 participants met in Trondheim, Norway, for the Congress which was a success in every aspect. A Co-Chairs Report has already been published, it can be downloaded here, or accessed from the Congress website front page.

Winners in the Arctic biodiversity "through the lens" photo competition were also announced

The PAME working group was represented by several attendees, including the executive director of the PAME Secretariat, Soffía Guðmundsdóttir.

pame2The PAME Secretariat was invited to a meeting with a delegation from the Republic of Korea in November to discuss several issues regarding the PAME working group. Korea is a permanent observer to the Arctic Council.

They delegation was led by Jong-Deong (Justin) Kim director general go the strategy research division of the Korea Maritime Institute, and head of the Polar Policy Research Centre. Also in the delegation was Lee Tae-won, director of the economic cooperation division of the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Seung Woo Han, director of the department of Policy at the Korea Polar Research Institute and a representative from the ministry of the environment. Odin Kwon, vice president of DSME also attended the meeting.

The meeting was very fruitful and its results are currently being worked on from both ends.

The picture sees representatives from the PAME Secretariat, Soffía Guðmundsdóttir - executive director, and Hjalti Hreinsson, program officer, with the Korean delegation.

IMO adopts the Polar Code

 MG 4348The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code), and related amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) to make it mandatory, marking 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.

Visit the IMO Website.

The Polar Code and SOLAS amendments were adopted during the 94th session of IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), which was meeting at the Organization's London headquarters for its 94th session, from 17 to 21 November 2014.

The Polar Code covers the full range of design, construction, equipment, operational, training, search and rescue and environmental protection matters relevant to ships operating in waters surrounding the two poles.

Ships trading in the polar regions already have to comply with all relevant international standards adopted by IMO, but the newly adopted SOLAS chapter XIV “Safety measures for ships operating in polar waters”, adds additional requirements, by making mandatory the Polar Code (Preamble, Introduction and Part I-A (Safety measures)).

The Polar Code highlights the potential hazards of operating in polar regions, including ice, remoteness and rapidly changing and severe weather conditions, and provides goals and functional requirements in relation to ship design, construction, equipment, operations, training, and search and rescue, relevant to ships operating in Arctic and Antarctic waters.

As well as mandatory provisions, recommendations are also include in a Part 1-B.

The expected date of entry into force of the SOLAS amendments is 1 January 2017, under the tacit acceptance procedure. It will apply to new ships constructed after that date. Ships constructed before 1 January 2017 will be required to meet the relevant requirements of the Polar Code by the first intermediate or renewal survey, whichever occurs first, after 1 January 2018.

Because it contains both safety and environment related provisions, the Polar Code will be mandatory under both SOLAS and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). Last month (October 2014), IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) approved the necessary draft amendments to make the environmental provisions in the the Polar Code mandatory under MARPOL. The MEPC is expected to adopt the Code and associated MARPOL amendments at its next session in May 2015, with an entry-into-force date to be aligned with the SOLAS amendments.