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New developments in the Arctic: Protecting the marine environment from increased shipping
Franckx, E.; Boone, L. (2012). New developments in the Arctic: Protecting the marine environment from increased shipping, in: Nordquist, M.H. et al. (Ed.) The Law of the Sea Convention: US Accession and Globalization. Center for Oceans Law and Policy, 15: pp. 178-205. hdl.handle.net/10.1163/9789004202320_018
In: Nordquist, M.H. et al. (Ed.) (2012). The Law of the Sea Convention: US Accession and Globalization. Center for Oceans Law and Policy, 15. Martinus Nijhoff: Leiden. ISBN 978-90-04-20232-0. xx, 575 pp. hdl.handle.net/10.1163/9789004202320, more
In: Center for Oceans Law and Policy. Martinus Nijhoff: The Hague; London; New York. ISSN 1872-7158, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 258201 [ OMA ]

Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Franckx, E., more
  • Boone, L.

Abstract
    It is generally accepted that the Arctic is warming at a rapid pace. Studies have shown that with this warming trend, sea ice and glaciers are melting and thus sea levels are rising. However, the situation might be more severe than originally anticipated. The ice is retreating a lot more quickly than was projected, with an absolute low point in 2007. A second low point occurred in 2008 and September 2010 provided us with the third lowest sea ice extent in the satellite record. Maybe even more important than the decline in sea ice extent, is the fact that the ice volume is decreasing with it. The ice pack is becoming more and more vulnerable to melting due to the decline in the amount of old, thick ice and it appears that five-year or older ice has nearly completely disappeared from the Arctic. This Arctic melt opens up new possibilities for (trans) Arctic shipping. Of particular importance was key finding #6 of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) report, which stated that "Reduced sea ice is very likely to increase marine transport and access to resources". Indeed, due to this warming trend, the Northwest Passage, the Northern Sea Route and maybe even the Central Arctic Route in the future, are opening up. In the fall of 2008 the first commercial ship transported cargo from the east through the Northwest Passage and in 2009 two German cargo vessels, the MV Beluga Fraternity and the MV Beluga Foresight were the first foreign flag ships to sail the entire Northern Sea Route. This year navigation has really picked up in the Northern Sea Route and therefore 2010 can be viewed as the breakthrough year for trans-Arctic commercial shipping, with more voyages planned for 2011. These new developments are again raising questions concerning the outstanding maritime boundaries in the area, the legal status of the waters concerned, the efficiency of current solutions and the extent of national jurisdiction. As national legal regimes will need to adapt, substantial changes are to be expected to meet these new challenges. Meanwhile, as shipping increases, the stress on the already fragile environment increases with it, which results in great concerns regarding the preservation and protection of the environment. Environmentalists warn about the dangers of vessel-source pollution and emphasize that the lack of infrastructure, information and mandatory legislation, are issues that should urgently be addressed at an international level. This paper will provide an insight about recent developments in the Arctic in the above mentioned areas.

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