By MarEx 2015-05-15 13:53:50
The environmental provisions for the Arctic Code were approved Friday following the week-long 68th Marine Environment Protection Committee session. Ships trading in the Polar Regions will have to comply with strict safety and environmental protocols specific to the harsh conditions in the Arctic and Antarctic in accordance with the provisions adopted today.
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.
The newly adopted environmental provisions will:
• Prevent the discharge of oil or oily mixtures into the sea and mandate that oil fuel tanks be separated from outer shell.
• Prevent the discharge of and noxious liquid substances or mixtures containing noxious substances into the sea.
• Prevent the discharge of sewage or garbage unless in accordance with MARPOL and Polar Code regulations.
The adoption of the new environmental provisions comes at a critical time for the maritime industry as shipping through both Arctic and Antarctic waters is set to increase. Trends and forecasts indicate that due to melting ice, polar shipping will grow and diversify in coming years. According to the IMO, “these challenges need to be met without compromising either safety of life at sea or the sustainability of the polar environments.”
Campaigners Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) have said that Polar Code did not go far enough to protect the Antarctic environment from shipping, adding for instance that the regulations would continue to allow raw sewage to be discharged beyond 12 nautical miles from land.
“While some vessels will carry the necessary equipment, the Code does not explicitly spell out what should happen in the event of an oil or chemical spill,” Sian Prior of ASOC said.
“The inclusion of specific provisions in the Code could have tailored existing requirements to the special needs of polar waters.”
The adoption of the environmental provisions follows the December 2014 adoption of the safety-related requirements of the Polar Code and related amendments to make it mandatory under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). The complete Polar Code, encompassing the safety-related and environment-related requirements, is expected to enter into force on 1 January 2017.
The Polar Code will apply to new ships constructed on or after 1 January 2017. Ships constructed before that date 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.