Todorov Andrey
Arctic Port State Control as a Tool of Enforcement of the Polar Code
Publication Type:


ISSN 2542-0240

DOI: 10.23932/2542-0240-2019-12-5-160-176

Intensification of Arctic shipping requires the regional states to take appropriate measures aimed at mitigation of emerging risks. This relates to ensuring the compliance by vessels with the relevant provisions of international law in the field of safety of navigation and protection of the marine environment. The Polar code, which entered into force in 2017, set the minimum safety and environmental standards for the vessels navigating in the severe waters of the Arctic and the Antarctic. However, under the Code the re-sponsibilty for ensuring compliance with the requirements rests with the administration of the flag state. In general, this reflects the approach of the international law, according to which the flag state is fully responsible for ensuring that a vessel under its flag meets international standards. Nevertheless, polar shipping represents a special kind of activities, which requires special experience and skills, including of the flag state administration carrying out the control. The problem is aggravated by the fact that vessels navigate in the Arctic waters often under a flag of convinience, with states not being able to perform a proper control. One of the potential efficient measures to ensure the compliance with the provisins of the Polar Code by vessels in the Arctic is the development of a regional port state control mechanism. Such instruments are widely used on the regional level and are highly valued by the International Maritime Organization. Implementation of an Arctic port state control mechanism will require development of a vessel inspections system aimed at ensuring compliance with the Polar Code standards, exchange of information between participating states, in particular on non-compliant vessels and weather forecasts in specific areas of the Arctic. An important element of the Arctic mechanism should be engaging of non-arctic states from Asia and Northern Europe, given that states from these regions would be the ports of departure in case of a transit passage through the Arctic Ocean without entering the Arctic coastal states’ ports. An option of extending the mandate and scope of existing port state control mechanisms is also considered as an alternative to creating a new one specifically for the Arctic. However, this approach would entail more difficulties and would not ensure the needed involvment of all parties concerned.


Keywords: Arctic | international law | UN Convention on the Law of the Sea | Polar Code | safety of navigation | protection of the marine environment | port state control | regional cooperation |

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