Industry experts convened yesterday, during London International Shipping Week (LISW), for a roundtable discussion on safety and sustainability in the Arctic, held by the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST).
Chaired by Sarah Cornell MIMarEST CSci CMarSci CChem, a Vice President of the Institute, the event brought together specialists from a wide range of fields including marine science, environmental protection, engineering, climatology, shipping, naval architecture, navigation and positioning, law and policy, remote sensing, oceanography, geology and insurance.
Michael Kingston, a Partner at DWF LLP’s Marine Trade and Energy Group who also represents the International Union of Marine Insurance on the IMO correspondence group finalising limitation guidance for operation in ice, commented: “The fact that IMarEST have hosted such an important roundtable discussion in London International Shipping Week demonstrates great leadership on these issues for the benefit of all concerned and for safety of life at sea at this important juncture as the Polar Code comes into effect.”
One of the key issues identified during the discussion was that of the huge gaps in knowledge and data associated with the Arctic region. Long-term, sustained observations of ice, wind, waves, currents and marine life are crucial for shipping and offshore activities to be safe and sustainable. Changing seasonal conditions will also affect risk perception and it is paramount that we look at how to develop reliable information, equipment, training, hydrographic surveys, ice-charting and navigational aids.
Dr Bev Mackenzie, IMarEST Technical Director, commented: “There is a huge amount of information to be collected in order for activity in the Arctic to be both safe and sustainable. Scientists across all disciplines have shown interest in carrying out this important research, but support is required through funding from governments and other stakeholders to create the data required.”
The discussion confirmed that increased activity within the Arctic will require the industry as a whole to rapidly consolidate a code of best practice and safety for the region as well as to invest on an operational and commercial level.
The IMarEST will produce a white paper report that outlines the major risks to people, assets and the environment and how those risks can be assessed, prevented and mitigated as well as looking at what more needs to be done with regards to policy and regulation, what incentives can be offered and how we can monitor progress of increased safety and sustainability.