The Arctic Council's Working Group on the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) today issued its third Arctic Shipping Status Report – Shipping in the Northwest Passage: Comparing 2013 to 2019 (ASSR #3).
The Northwest Passage (NWP) is the name given to the various maritime routes between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans along the northern coast of North America that span the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. There is no official definition of the NWP, and this report uses the definition of Arctic Waters set out under Canada’s Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act.
ASSR #3 looks at different parameters to measure shipping traffic changes in the NWP between 2013 and 2019. These parameters include the number of ships and their distance sailed, which both show an increase in 2019 as compared to 2013.
PAME issues Arctic Shipping Status Reports on a regular basis to facilitate awareness of and share information about Arctic shipping activities. PAME uses its Arctic Ship Traffic Data (ASTD) System to generate these Arctic Shipping Status Reports.
"We had very active participation from Observers and Arctic experts, joining workshops with 40 to 65 people. As for the lead countries, I can speak for the United States. We had a handful of people working on a day-to-day basis with the plan and negotiating sessions, but we had a team of about 20 people that were providing technical input to the actual document. So, I’d imagine that the number of people engaged in developing the plan is probably in the hundreds."
The interviews gives great insight into the work of PAME and how the document was developed.
Link to the interview.
Click here to read the report.
The PAME Working Groups generally meets twice each year. The last two PAME meetings have been held online due to COVID-19.
Both meetings were held over a longer period of time then usual, and both were attended by well over 100 participants.
The meeting report contains a summary of the meeting, the records of decisions, a list of PAME deliverables for the Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in May 2021, a list of projects for inclusion in the PAME 2021-2023 Work Plan, and a list of participants.
Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum Sees Record Attendance with Huge Increase in Usage of its Web PortalWritten by Hjalti
Press Release 25 November 2020
Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum Sees Record Attendance with Huge Increase in Usage of its Web Portal
Today, the Arctic Council’s Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum (the Forum) concluded its fourth annual meeting, which for the first time was held by videoconference due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 140 registrants representing nearly 80 different entities attended.
Addressing the Forum, Dr. Heike Deggim, the International Maritime Organization’s Director of Maritime Safety, said:
“This Forum is forward thinking, and a leading example of inclusivity in the implementation of important regulation for the protection of seafarers, the environment, and the Arctic’s inhabitants, as well as important significance for the Antarctic. It is a lesson for others in how to approach the implementation of regulation. It would be great to see support for its replication for other IMO Regulations and Conventions.”
The purpose of the Forum is to support the effective implementation of the International Maritime Organization’s International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code). This is accomplished by collecting and posting on a dedicated Web Portal authoritative information relevant to all those involved in safe and environmentally sound Arctic shipping, including shipowners and operators, regulators, classification societies, marine insurers, and indigenous and local communities.
‘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 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.
Among the organizations represented by the expert presenters were the Arctic Council PAME Working Group, Russian Federation, International Maritime Organization, World Meteorological Organization, Arctic Regional Hydrographic Commission, International Ice Charting Working Group, Bering Sea Elders Group, International Chamber of Shipping, and the World Wildlife Fund, amongst others (further details below)
The Forum’s Web Portal, accessible at www.arcticshippingforum.is, provides links to carefully selected, authoritative information from intergovernmental bodies and widely recognized industry, non-governmental, indigenous, and academic organizations that is critical to effective Polar Code implementation. Since the launch of the Web Portal, page visits have grown substantially each year, with many pages receiving several thousand “hits” in the past 12 months. (17,475 visits in November 2019 increasing to 55,943 visits in November 2020 – further details below.) The Web Portal is regularly updated and expanded as new information becomes available.
The Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum was established in 2017 by the eight Arctic States (Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States) to help raise awareness and to promote the effective implementation of the Polar Code. It also draws on experience from Antarctica, with Participant representation from that polar region.
Iceland’s Sverrir Konráðsson, the Forum Chair said:
“The importance of the Forum as a venue for the compilation and exchange of information critical to the implementation of IMO’s Polar Code continues to increase as evidenced by the growing number of annual meeting Participants. The Forum’s Web Portal has quickly become an indispensable source of carefully curated and ever-increasing number of hyperlinks to authoritative information essential to safe and environmentally sound navigation in the Arctic.”
IMO’s Director of Maritime Safety, Dr. Heike Deggim, said:
“I am glad that the Forum has established the Web Portal which provides a wealth of information, not just from a regulatory perspective but – and that is the theme of this Forum- also on Best Practices, as developed by those applying and implementing the Polar Code. These include partner UN organizations and other international organizations, Member State administrations, as well as shipping associations and classification societies, amongst others. IMO would like to thank the Forum’s Organizing Committee, the PAME Secretariat, and Iceland as Chair for their hard work in organizing this meeting, and for the great support for the implementation of IMO regulation.”
The meeting took place virtually on 24-25 November. For further information about the Forum, its fourth meeting, its Participants, and presentations at the meeting, please visit the 4th Annual Meeting Website.
For further information about web-portal statistics, see Michael Kingston, Special Advisor to PAME’s presentation on the meeting website.
About the Arctic Shipping Best Practices Information Forum
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 participants on specific shipping topics, including but not limited to; hydrography, search and rescue logistics, industry guidelines and ship equipment, systems and structure.
About the Arctic Council
The Arctic Council is the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic. Members of the Arctic Council are Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States.
PAME is one of six Arctic Council working groups. PAME is the focal point of the Arctic Council’s activities related to the protection and sustainable use of the Arctic marine environment and provides a unique forum for collaboration on a wide range of activities in this regard.
About the IMO Polar Code
The Polar Code is a mandatory international framework that increases the safety of ship operations and mitigates the impact on the people and the vulnerable environment in Polar waters. The Polar Code came into force in January 2017.
The Arctic Council's Working Group on the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) today issued its second Arctic Shipping Status Report – Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) Use by Ships in the Arctic 2019 (ASSR #2).
ASSR #2 provides information on fuels used by ships in the Arctic in 2019 with a focus on heavy fuel oils (HFO). The Report shows that 10% of ships in Arctic waters as defined by the International Maritime Organization’s Polar Code burned HFO as fuel. Generally speaking, HFO spilled or otherwise released into Arctic waters is likely to have adverse impacts on the marine environment
The report also shows that between 2016 and 2019, fuel consumption in the Polar Code area grew of 82%.
PAME expects to issue Arctic Shipping Status Reports on a regular basis to facilitate awareness of and share information about Arctic shipping activities. PAME will use its Arctic Ship Traffic Data (ASTD) System to generate these Arctic Shipping Status Reports.
The video was launched during PAME's participation at the #APP4SEA2020 online conference, more here at PAME's keynote speech.
PAME’s capsule containing a GPS transmitter travelled several thousand kilometres from Iceland to Scotland – highlighting how marine litter can travel.
Maps and images are free to use by all.
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 capsule was tracked on a live map for the whole journey.
This first plastic in a bottle was sent off 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 on 12 September 2019. Iceland holds the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council until 2021 and places a special focus on marine litter and plastics in the Arctic.
It was retrieved by Hayley Douglas on April 6th 2020 (pictured).
The map showed 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.
About the project:
PAME‘s (Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment Working Group of the Arctic Council) 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.
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.
The Arctic Council's Working Group on the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment(PAME) today launched its first Arctic Shipping Status Report. PAME expects to issue such Reports on a regular basis to facilitate awareness of and share information about Arctic shipping activities. PAME will use its Arctic Ship Traffic Data (ASTD) System to generate these Arctic Shipping Status Reports.
The Report released today provides information on general Arctic shipping trends between 2013 and 2019 and shows how much Arctic ship traffic has increased. For example, the Report shows that during this six-year period, the number of ships entering the Arctic grew by 25%, and the distance sailed by ships in the Arctic increased by 75%.
The Meeting Report contains a summary of the meeting, a list of the meeting participants, the final agenda, a list of documents and the meetings decisions.
Click here to download the report.
PAME releases first capsule containing a GPS transmitter to simulate how marine litter travels across the ocean
The Arctic Council’s Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) Working Group launched the first bottle equipped with a GPS transmitter into the Atlantic today 12 September. 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 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 Working Group meeting in Reykjavík. Iceland currently 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 beaches 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 capsules from different locations across the Arctic. The capsules 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 capsules in different areas across the Arctic. “We have discussed different areas with experts on oceanography and meteorology and a leading 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.
The first bottle has now embarked on its journey with a proper send-off. At the launch, of the 1st capsule the Iceland’s Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources, Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, said:
“Plastics in the oceans is a growing problem. Therefore, it is essential to enhance knowledge on how marine litter travels around the oceans worldwide. The Plastic in a bottle project will give us an important insight in that regard as well as increasing our awareness about plastics in the oceans. Reducing marine litter, in particular plastics, is one of my priorities as a Minister and we have already initiated many actions and are planning even more to that regard. Iceland has also focused on the topic internationally, including within the Arctic Council and our Chairmanship. I believe that is very important.”
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.
“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.
The live map is online here.
The project gratefully acknowledges funding from the Nordic Council of Ministers.