IMO Steps Up Safety in Polar Waters, by Joseph R. Fonseca


IMO adopts a new set of regulations on navigation in polar waters now in force

 United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted global, binding regulations to enhance safety of navigation in polar waters. After several years’ intense negotiations, the IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) has today adopted a new set of regulations on navigation in polar waters, including the waters around Greenland. The IMO hereby takes a great step towards making the Polar Code in its entirety internationally binding. The Polar Code covers all aspects of navigation in polar areas – from the construction of ships, the training of crews and navigation to improved coordination of search and rescue operations. The Polar Code will apply to passenger ships, and it will also apply to cargo ships with a gross tonnage above 500. Director General of the Danish Maritime Authority Andreas Nordseth states: ”I am pleased that, with the adoption of the navigational safety issues of the Polar Code, we have taken yet another great step towards an internationally binding set of regulations to enhance the safety of ships navigating polar waters.” Before the Polar Code becomes effective, the environmental provisions on navigation in polar areas must also be adopted by the IMO Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) in the spring of 2015. However, the provisions have already been approved by the MEPC in September 2014. Therefore, it is expected that the entire Code will be adopted to become effective at the turn of the year 2016/2017.