Chairmanship of the Arctic Council is also seen in seafaring
Anita Mäkinen works as Chief Adviser to the Director General of Maritime Sector at the Finnish Transport Safety Agency Trafi. She is responsible for environmental issues relating to marine transport and, as the Finnish representative, negotiates environmental regulations for shipping in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the EU. In Trafi, she is also responsible for the Arctic affairs. Environmental protection, including the protection of the seas, is one of the basic tasks of the Arctic Council.
Anita Mäkinen, how do you see Finland’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council in your work?
“I have participated in the Arctic Council PAME Working Group since 2011. I was involved in the preparation of all of the implementation reports concerning the recommendations of the ArcticMarine Shipping Assessment (AMSA) for the Ministerial meetings held in 2011–2017.”“During the US Chairmanship in the Arctic Council I chaired the Finnish delegation in the Task Force on Arctic Marine Cooperation. Now, during our Chairmanship, I am co-chairing the Task Force together with Gabriel Swiney from the USA and Johann Sigurjónsson from Iceland.”
During Finland’s Chairmanship Anita Mäkinen is also chairing the Arctic Shipping Best Practises Information Forum established under the Arctic Council PAME Working Group. The purpose of the Forum is to support the implementation of the Polar Code.
What does the Arctic Council do in the field of marine cooperation?
“The cooperation between the member states of the Arctic Council was further strengthened during the negotiations on the IMO Polar Code. The same also happened during the negotiations on Black Carbon emissions from shipping, restricting the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil (HFO) and the regional arrangement of port reception facilities in the Arctic area.”
“In the PAME Working Group we have prepared an AIS system for the Arctic where we can use satellites to monitor marine traffic and how it is developing in the Arctic waters, including estimating development of air pollutant emissions from ships."
The Task Force on Arctic Marine Cooperation met in Helsinki in autumn 2017, co-chaired by Jóhann Sigurjónsson (left), Anita Mäkinen and Gabriel Swiney. Photo: AN/Linnea Nordström
The Polar Code of the International Maritime Organization IMO came into force in the beginning of 2017. What is regulated by the Polar Code?
“Yes, the safety and environmental regulations of the Polar Code, or the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Area, adopted by IMO in 2015, came into force on 1 January 2017. The rules concerning crew training and certification will enter into force next summer.”
The Polar Code applies to ships carrying the so-called SOLAS certificate operating in the polar waters defined in the Code i.e. in the Arctic and Antarctic waters.
Ships exposed to high risks in the polar area
“Operating in polar waters involves significant risks to ships. The sea charts on these marine areas are incomplete, climate is extremely harsh (including low temperature and ice), proper functioning of the communication and navigation systems pose a challenge to shipping, crew members may have little experience in operating in icy conditions or in polar waters in general, etc.”
“Rescue and oil spill response operations are difficult because of the long distances. The objective of the Polar Code is to improve the safety of ships operating in polar waters and reducing their harmful impact on the environment.”
The Polar Code sets out stricter safety and environmental regulations for ships operating in polar waters than those applicable in other marine areas. There are also provisions concerning the training and certification of crew members.
The Polar Code is composed of two parts: ship safety and protecting the environment. Both of these are further divided into mandatory measures and recommendatory provisions.
Polar Code adds to safety
“The provisions on safety in the Polar Code concern matters such as the structures, intact stability, damaged stability, machinery, fire safety, life saving, navigation and radio equipment, safe operation, and crew training and certification requirements.”
“Ships operating in polar waters? must be sufficiently ice strengthened when navigating in ice-covered areas, as well as meet other technical requirements set out in the Code.”
“Each ship must have a Polar Water Operational Manual (PWOM) which gives further information on its operational capabilities and limitations. Any operational limitations of a ship must also be presented in the Polar Code Certificate.
Stricter environmental regulations
“The Environmental Chapter of the Polar Code sets out stricter environmental regulations than the MARPOL Convention does in other sea areas, for example, concerning the discharge of oil and oily waters and chemicals or their mixtures into the sea. Any such discharges are prohibited in Arctic waters defined in the Polar Code. The rules are much stricter than those applicable to the Baltic Sea.”
“The discharge of black water, or sewage, and solid waste close to the edge of a glacier or ice sheet is regulated more strictly in the polar waters.”
“The Environmental Chapter of the Code also contains recommendatory provisions on the use of non-toxic biodegradable lubricants or water-based systems outside the underwater hull, implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention before its entry into force, and minimising biofouling in icy conditions.”
Finnish ships from Greenland to the Antarctic
“Ships operating under the Finnish flag that have been ice strengthened according to the Finnish-Swedish ice class rules have navigated in icy conditions in the Arctic regions, including to Greenland, northern ports of Russia and to the Far East via the North-East Passage.”
“Finnish ships have also sailed to the Arctic.”
Polar Code Conference in Helsinki in February 2018
“The implementation of the Polar Code is a high priority for Finland, which is why, as part of Finland’s Chairmanship in the Arctic Council, Trafi will organise the International Conference on Harmonized implementation of the Polar Code in Helsinki on 22 February 2018.”
The key note speakers at the Conference are Mr Kitack Lim, Secretary General of IMO, and Mr Petteri Taalas, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization WMO.
Registration to the Polar Code Conference is open at Trafi website www.trafi.fi/en/polarcode1year until 9 February 2018.