EU Science Hub

JRC contributes to safe Arctic shipping

ship in the Arctic ice
Aug 28 2015

The Arctic offers new opportunities for maritime transport but its fragile marine environment needs to be protected. The JRC uses remote sensing and vessel tracking systems to map maritime activities and their trends in this area. This research activity helps in enhancing the Arctic situational awareness, while improving its knowledge. It is also fundamental for the better planning of maritime uses and infrastructures in order to guarantee a safe and sustainable development of the Arctic.

JRC's findings were presented at the ShipArc 2015 Conference, organised by the World Maritime University, the International Maritime Organization and the PAME Working Group of the Arctic Council, on 25-27 August 2015 in Malmö, Sweden. JRC organised, chaired and presented ongoing work in Maritime Situational Awareness in a special session under the subtheme "Beyond the Polar Code: Assuring Safe & Environmentally Sound Arctic Navigation".

JRC's session focused on current research activities related to maritime transport trends, vessel traffic monitoring, and risk analysis in the Arctic region. Subjects included satellite based imaging, vessel tracking data analysis, integration of ancillary meteorological and oceanographic information, data fusion, and spatial data mining. The JRC presented its own work on mapping maritime activities (shipping, fishing, exploration and tourism) and their trends in the Arctic using remote sensing and vessel tracking systems.

The pace of development in the fragile Arctic marine environment is challenging the capacity to prepare for it in a safe and sustainable way. The ShipArc 2015 international conference engaged stakeholders in resource development, shipping, sustainable management, and those most likely impacted (e.g. coastal communities) to discuss a forward-looking regulatory, governance, research, and capacity-building agenda that will assist in achieving Safe and Sustainable Shipping in a Changing Arctic Environment.

An increasingly ice-diminished environment in the Arctic is accelerating interest and potential for new maritime trade routes, merchant transportation, and resource development such as mining, oil & gas exploration, tourism and fishing. The IMO and the Arctic Council have been focused on ‘Safe Arctic Shipping’ through the recently adopted Polar Code and as a key theme among the Arctic Council’s priorities. The World Maritime University plays a key role in research and building capacity in Arctic issues and governance.