CoverThe Forum’s fourth annual meeting took place virtually on 24th  – 25th November 2020. Originally scheduled for 11-12 May in London at the Headquarters of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the meeting was postponed and instead held virtually on account of the global COVID-19 pandemic. This is the second Forum meeting under Iceland’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

‘The Polar Code: Trending Towards Success” was the theme of this year’s meeting in recognition of the enormous progress made in the Polar Code’s successful implementation. Presentations from a diverse group of experts (e.g. PAME Secretariat, Russian Federation, IMO, World Meteorological Organization, Arctic Regional Hydrographic Commission, International Ice Charting Working Group, Bering Sea Elders Group, International Chamber of Shipping, World Wildlife Fund) addressed efforts to advance harmonized interpretations of the Polar Code, highlighted initiatives to enhance meteorological, oceanographic, and hydrographic products and services that support safe and environmentally sound Arctic shipping, and described training initiatives to strengthen the critical human element in polar navigation

The Polar Operational Limitations Assessment Risk Indexing System (POLARIS) also was a topic of considerable discussion.

The meeting was attended by Arctic States, shipowners, classification societies, and intergovernmental organizations with a stake in implementing, complying with and/or making information available to support implementation of or compliance with the Polar Code. Meeting attendance grew by over 80% to 147 delegates, representing nearly 80 different entities attended the meeting, building on last year’s total of 80.

The Forum Coordinating Committee is deeply appreciative of the active engagement and dynamic support of Forum Participants. The Forum is making great strides in realizing its objective for safe shipping and the protection of the Arctic marine environment based on a collaborative approach.

The Forum's web-portal is available here.

The purpose of the Forum is to support effective implementation of the IMO Polar Code by making publicly available on a dedicated web portal information relevant to all those involved in safe and environmentally sound Arctic shipping, including shipowners/operators, regulators, classification societies, marine insurers, and indigenous and local communities. The theme of this fourth annual Forum meeting was The Polar Code: Trending Toward Success.

The Forum places particular emphasis on collecting information of use to Maritime Administrations and Recognized Organizations in issuing Polar Ship Certificates and conducting Operational Assessments, as well as information used by shipowners and operators in developing Polar Water Operational Manuals.

Meeting documents:



Michael Kingston: Forum Web-Portal Development

Hjalti Hreinsson: Shipping in the Arctic Polar Code area

Heike Deggim: Update from IMO

14940269709 56a67b564a hThe next PAME Working Group Meeting (PAME I-2020) and a number of associated meetings will be held during the week of 3-7 February 2020 at the conference center at the office of the Norwegian Environmental Agency in Oslo (here). 

Leads on respective activities are requested to prepare for this meeting in accordance with the PAME Work Plan 2019-2021 and Records of Decisions from the PAME II-2019 meeting. PAME delegations are invited to include shipping, EA, MPA, Resource Exploration and Development, Marine Litter and other experts in their delegations to the PAME I-2020 meeting.


forsidaThe Arctic Marine Tourism workshop was held on 3 February 2020. Read about the project here.


Workshop Objectives
The aim of this workshop is to seek input and generate discussion on the Arctic Marine Tourism: Development in the Arctic and enabling real change project which is composed of the following two work packages:

Work Package 1 (WP1): Arctic marine tourism knowledge and information
To compile data on tourism vessel statistics in the Arctic using the Arctic Ship Traffic Data (ASTD) database to better understand recent developments and identify gaps in data.
  1. Analyze the trends in the Arctic marine tourism based on information in the ASTD system, as well as other complementary databases with respect to the number of cruise ships, their size, pollution information etc.
  2. Identify where gaps in data exist, and potential ways to address these gaps.

Work Package 2 (WP2): Framework for Best Practice Guidelines
To summarize existing site-specific guidelines for near-shore and coastal areas of the Arctic visited by passengers of marine tourism vessels and pleasure craft.
  1. The aim is to identify common themes in existing guidelines for the purpose of creating a aspirational template for subsequent site-specific guidelines to refer to.
  2. Seek input from the Indigenous Peoples and local communities who are impacted by the marine tourism industry.
  3. Coordinate with the marine tourism industry, including the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO)

 shutterstock 1139055707Presentations: 

Enhanced Maritime Situational Awareness (EMSA) initiative video: Tuktoyaktuk Hunters and Trappers Committee – Tuktoyaktuk, Inuvialuit Settlement Area (Northwest Territories)

The project gratefully acknowledges funding from the Nordic Council of Ministers.



tireeApril 6th 2020: Capsule retrieved

PAME‘s Plastic in a Bottle capsule travelled around 7.000 kilometers in 207 days before washing on shore in the Isle of Tiree, Scotland today 6 April 2020.

The aim of this project is to simulate how marine litter and plastics can be expected to travel far distances into and out of Arctic waters.

The map to the right shows the journey and the location where it was found.

The map shows how the capsule travelled from Iceland, up to Greenland where it circulated for a while, going further south towards Newfoundland, before heading east.

It looked like it would reach the shore on South Uist in Scotland, but went on and washed up – notably without its yellow foam coat which was for protection – in Tiree.

This is the second capsule that Verkís has sent out which ends up on the coast of the Isle of Tiree. The beautiful beaches there probably may have some litter originating in Iceland!

PAME will be releasing more capsules, the next one will be in conjunction with a project by the Netherlands. That project is scheduled for the summer of 2020.

It was retrieved by Hayley Douglas on April 6th 2020 (pictured). She also put more images on her Twitter account.

 EU6m MtXYAEGyoA    capsule


September 12 2019: Capsule launched

IMG 2540PAME launched the first bottle equipped with a GPS transmitter into the Atlantic on 12 September 2019. Called “plastic in a bottle”, the capsule will simulate how marine litter and plastics travel far distances into and out of Arctic waters. The collected data will feed into a regional action plan on marine litter and serve as an outreach tool to create awareness around the growing concerns on marine litter in the Arctic.

This first plastic in a bottle was sent off from the Reykjanes peninsula by Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, Iceland’s Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources from the Icelandic Coast Guard vessel Thor in conjunction with the PAME II-2019 Working Group meeting in Reykjavík. Iceland holds the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council until 2021 and places a special focus on marine litter and plastics in the Arctic.

The saying “out of sight, out of mind” does not apply to litter that has made their way into the ocean. Currents, streams, waves and wind carry marine litter across the seas. Neither the deep sea nor IMG 2541beaches in the Arctic are exempt from this pollution. However, when it comes to how plastics travel into and out of Arctic waters, our knowledge on the trajectories of this marine litter remains limited. With this capsule PAME is seeking to gain valuable information to better understand this problem.

Over the next few months PAME will be launching more bottles from different locations across the Arctic. The bottles were designed and built by Icelandic engineering firm Verkís. Every day, the GPS transmitter sends a signal allowing viewers to follow the journey of the bottle in real time through an online map on the PAME website. “Our aim is to show how expansively marine litter and plastics can travel and to gain a better understanding of how plastics that originate from far away end up on shores in the Arctic. The project is also a great outreach tool to create awareness around the issue of marine litter and plastics in the Arctic”, said Soffía Guðmundsdóttir, PAME’s Executive Secretary.

The PAME Working Group aims at releasing the remaining bottles in different areas across the Arctic. “We have discussed different areas with experts on oceanography and meteorology and a IMG 2522leading expert in Iceland on ocean currents. According to them, one could not expect an object like the plastic capsules could travel long distances to certain areas with ocean currents. Weather and waves may have substantial effects on the capsules in addition to currents,” explained Soffía.

Tackling the issue of marine litter and especially plastics in the Arctic is one of the Arctic Council’s priorities during Iceland’s Chairmanship. At the end of its Chairmanship in May 2021, Iceland plans to provide a comprehensive regional action plan on marine litter and plastics in the Arctic to the Ministers of the Arctic Council.

PAME worked closely together with Verkís in developing the bottles. Verkís has been involved in similar projects in the past and has seen its bottles travel thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean for well over a year – reaching Norway, Scotland and the Faroe Islands after being released from Iceland.

bottle“Verkís is thrilled to take part in conveying such an important message across. We have previously been involved in similar projects with the aim of highlighting how marine litter travels and causes problems across the oceans. One of our capsules travelled over 5000 kilometers and washed ashore in northern Norway, six months later,” Arnór Þórir Sigurðsson, Animal Ecologist at Verkís said.

Once washed ashore, a message inside the bottle will instruct the finder what to do with the bottle.


See also:
The project gratefully acknowledges funding from the Nordic Council of Ministers.

IMG 2522

IMG 2537

IMG 2540

IMG 2541