Chapter 3 Shipping in Arctic Marine Ecosystems under Stress: Recognizing and Mitigating the Threats

In: Shipping in Inuit Nunangat
Warwick F. Vincent
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Connie Lovejoy
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Kristin Bartenstein
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The Arctic Ocean and its adjacent seas have many unique ecological features, including species and food webs that are highly adapted to the cold polar environment. These ecosystems are now under intense pressure from climate change, which is proceeding rapidly at high northern latitudes and acting in concert with other global stressors. The Arctic Ocean ecosystem is therefore in a precarious ecological state and is vulnerable to additional perturbations. Arctic shipping has entered a phase of rapid expansion, and is imposing new threats to the survival and health of Arctic marine life. These threats include potential chemical impacts through discharges and emissions; physical impacts through noise pollution, icebreaking and ship collisions with animals; and biological impacts through the dispersal of invasive species living on ship hulls or in ballast waters. The cold water ecosystems of the Arctic are especially vulnerable to oil pollution that would result from collisions or grounding. There are ways to reduce the risk of catastrophic and cumulative impacts of shipping in the region, building on the Polar Code and with further attention to marine protected areas. Given the precarious state of the Arctic Ocean, all current and future shipping activities need to be closely scrutinized, monitored and regulated.

1 Introduction

Global climate change is imposing severe stresses on ecosystems throughout the world, and nowhere more so than in Arctic seas and their surrounding lands. Climate warming is amplified at these high northern latitudes and is resulting in rapid changes in the ice regimes that polar marine life depends upon. These changes are also impacting the Indigenous communities that have lived in the region for millennia, and whose traditional cultures are closely linked to the ice and ecosystem health of the Arctic Ocean. Warming temperatures and loss of ice habitats, combined with ocean acidification and contaminant inputs, have moved Arctic marine ecosystems towards a precarious state that is vulnerable to additional stresses.

The ongoing loss of Arctic sea ice has opened up opportunities for new shipping operations in the region, and much greater maritime traffic is projected for the future. Cargo shipping through the Northern Sea Route increased by nearly fourfold since between 2013 and 2018,1 and is also increasing across the Canadian Arctic.2 Global warming above 2°C is projected to allow navigability through the Northwest Passage for all vessel types during the ice-free season, and to increase the season length for shipping in the Beaufort Sea region to 100–200 days, rising to 200–300 days at 4°C.3 Given the uncertainties of the Arctic ice regime, ongoing changes in Arctic ship traffic4 will be tempered by operational and commercial risks,5 but further large increases could occur if operators are prepared to risk marginally unsafe conditions.6

Although shipping brings socioeconomic benefits including employment opportunities and the transport of people, resources and vital supplies, it also has potentially negative effects on marine ecosystems and the adjacent coastal land-based ecosystems. These include physical impacts, such as noise pollution, icebreaking and collisions with animals, chemical impacts, such as oil pollution, aerosol release and wastewater discharge, and biological impacts, such as the transport of invasive species and disruption of seasonal bird and mammal migrations. In the polar regions, these impacts are amplified by many features that are characteristic of high latitudes, such as persistent cold temperatures that limit the break-down of pollutants, the short summer season for peak biological activities, and the reduced species diversity that lessens the resilience to perturbations.

Our aim in this chapter is to review the current state of Arctic Ocean ecosystems and their vulnerability to increased shipping traffic. We first introduce the key features of these ecosystems, including ecological values that make the region of special interest and concern for long-term conservation. We summarize recent observations of rapid change, the projections of future change, and evidence of increasing multiple stresses across the Arctic Ocean and its coastal lands. We then summarize the potential negative effects of shipping, with attention to the particularities of Arctic marine ecosystems, and conclude by identifying mitigation strategies that may allow future shipping developments to proceed carefully, and with reduced risk of catastrophic impacts.

2 Arctic Marine Ecosystems

The Arctic Ocean differs from the rest of the world ocean in many respects, and its unique features deserve special consideration for setting conservation objectives and policies. It is a semi-enclosed ocean surrounded by continental lands, in sharp contrast to the Southern Ocean that surrounds the ice-covered landmass of Antarctica. This means that the Arctic Ocean is strongly influenced by its terrestrial environment, and is sensitive to changes on land as well as to those offshore. This semi-isolated nature has also allowed the basin to develop its own unique ecosystems, with many species that are found only within the Arctic Ocean. These organisms are highly adapted to the conditions of persistent ice, cold temperatures and strong seasonal fluctuations, from continuous light in summer to continuous darkness in winter. Recent molecular studies have shown that even at the microscopic level, the Arctic Ocean contains many unique planktonic species7 organized into networks of biological interactions that are distinct from elsewhere in the world ocean.8 As a result of this unique ecology, perturbations of species or biological communities in the Arctic Ocean may cause irreplaceable losses from the biosphere, and any such impacts must be considered a threat to global as well as local biodiversity.

Arctic seas are not completely isolated from the world ocean, but are connected to the Pacific Ocean via Bering Strait and to the Atlantic Ocean via the eastern Fram Strait and the Barents Sea. These inflow gateways allow the transport of heat, nutrients and southern species into the Arctic, and provide conduits for animal migration and access points for shipping. Ice and water are circulated within the Arctic Ocean via large-scale transport processes, notably the Beaufort Gyre and the Transpolar Drift.9 This means that pollution resulting from a discharge or accident will not remain localized, but can be rapidly transferred from one region to another, including across national boundaries.

Sea ice is an important feature of both the north and south polar oceans, and in the Arctic Ocean can be seasonal first year ice or persist throughout the year as multiyear and mobile pack ice. This contrasts with the Southern Ocean, where ice forms over winter and then melts out almost completely each summer. This Antarctic annual sea ice is on average thinner than the Arctic multiyear sea ice. Unlike the South Polar Region, Arctic ice-covered seas extend all the way to the pole, and experience longer periods of continuous light and continuous darkness at these higher latitudes. In both oceans, the seawater remains at near-zero temperatures throughout the year, although there may be localized surface warming in coastal regions of the Arctic influenced by freshwater inflows over the shallow continental shelves.

The numerous riverine inputs to the Arctic Ocean, including the large Arctic rivers of Russia and the Mackenzie River in Canada, are another feature that distinguishes this marine environment from not only Antarctica, but also from all other oceans. Arctic seas account for only 1 percent of the total volume of the world ocean, yet they receive 10 percent of the total runoff of the world.10 This results in an unusually strong density layering of the ocean that shifts much of the biological production to lower, more nutrient-rich depths, below the freshwater-influenced surface layer. The sea ice itself contains communities of microscopic algae that live in the salt-water (brine) channels of the ice. This is a rich food source for animals that live in the surface waters of the ocean, as well as for benthic (bottom-dwelling) animals such as scallops and sea urchins that feed on the algae (especially diatoms) that are released from the melting ice and sink to the seafloor.

Shallow benthic environments are especially important in the Arctic Ocean because of its vast areas of coastal shelves with depths less than a few hundred metres,11 and these are habitats for many species. The region also contains a myriad of islands, including the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, and the total coastline of the Arctic is exceptionally long. Animals living along the coast, therefore play a major role in Arctic marine ecology, and provide food for Indigenous communities, such as Inuit, who have lived in this coastal environment for millennia. The rivers transport nutrients for plankton living in the Arctic Ocean, and although coastal erosion can bring in additional nutrients, the resultant higher sediment inputs can affect marine life adversely. All of these features draw attention to the distinct nature of the Arctic Ocean ecosystem, and the close association of biological communities, sea ice and persistent cold water temperatures.

Another unique feature of the Arctic Ocean is its soundscape.12 The waters are isolated from surface wind and wave effects by the persistent layer of sea ice, and Arctic marine animals have evolved in an exceptionally quiet environment relative to elsewhere in the world ocean. Ambient noise levels beneath the ice are low during most of the year, but with periods of loud sounds during sea ice fracturing and break-up.13 Additionally, the cold, lower salinity surface waters of the Arctic Ocean act as an acoustic duct or channel, bounded by the sea ice at the top and denser seawater below, and sound can travel unusual distances of tens to hundreds of kilometres through this channel. Arctic marine animals such as whales, seals and fish that use sound for navigation, reproductive behaviour and prey detection are adapted to low background noise levels, and a reliance on biological sound cues that are all the more important in the continuous darkness of winter and beneath the thick, light-shading snow and ice in other seasons.

3 Global Stressors

Multiple stressors that are global in origin are now acting on all ecosystems throughout the Arctic. The most severe of these is climate change because of its greater magnitude at high northern latitudes, and its wide range of impacts on ice-dependent ecosystems. Arctic amplification of warming is caused by a number of feedback effects,14 and these will continue to result in much greater temperature increases in the North than at lower latitudes. Climate models indicate that a 2°C rise in mean annual global temperatures by 2100 at a global scale would result in a 4 to 7°C rise in Arctic temperatures (with large differences among different locations), while a global increase of 3°C would translate to 7 to 11°C in the Arctic (mean night-time temperatures).15 Snow and ice are important features of the Arctic, and small increases in temperature can result in thawing and melting, thereby causing large-scale physical changes in the environment, with wide-ranging impacts on northern ecosystems and the Indigenous communities that depend upon them.16 In addition to this ongoing climate perturbation, Arctic Ocean ecosystems are experiencing large increases in ambient ultraviolet (UV) radiation, chemical effects of acidification, and a continuing influx of pollutants, including from world ocean currents and long-range atmospheric transport.

Climate warming imposes a stress on Arctic marine ecosystems in five different but interrelated ways: loss of ice habitats, increased variability of ice conditions, changes in water temperature and salinity, changes in inflows and currents, and facilitation of new species invasions and replacement. Ice loss is the most conspicuous of these changes, and in some locations is resulting in rapid contraction or even complete loss of certain habitat types. These changes have been strikingly apparent in the coastal margin along northern Ellesmere Island and Greenland, which contains the thickest, oldest sea ice of the Arctic Ocean. This wide marginal zone has been dubbed the Last Ice Area and is considered an ultimate refuge for marine ice-dependent species.17 However, the Arctic ice shelves, ancient floating ice sheets up to 100-m thick and attached to land, have undergone rapid collapse over the last few decades, with associated loss of some ecosystem types.18 Other thick ice features have also contracted rapidly in this area, including 90 percent loss of multiyear land-fast sea ice, some of it over 50 years old,19 and 85 percent loss of floating glacier tongues.20 For the Arctic Ocean as a whole, the ice pack has greatly contracted in area and become much thinner, with much of the multiyear ice replaced by annual sea ice. For late summer (September) over the period 1979 to 2020, this has resulted in 48 percent reduction in sea ice area and 77 percent reduction in sea ice volume.21 Ongoing contraction is expected over the course of this century, however, renewed sea ice growth would occur rapidly in response to greenhouse gas reductions.22

Arctic sea ice is the habitat for a variety of highly adapted species, from microbes to zooplankton, fish and mammals.23 The ongoing attrition of this habitat is likely to impose unusual stresses on the biota at all levels in the food chain, and will impair many ecosystem services.24 An ecological risk analysis of the eleven marine mammals that occur in Arctic seas has shown that three species are especially vulnerable to sea ice change: hooded seals, narwhals and polar bears.25 Polar bears in particular have high metabolic rates and high energetic costs for survival and reproduction, and therefore depend on an energy-rich diet. They may die by starvation if they are forced to swim over large distances rather than walking on sea ice to find their preferred diet of seals, or if they shift to coastal land-based foods, which are of much lower energy content.26 The low genetic diversity of polar bears may also limit their ability to adapt to change.27

In the recent past, thick multiyear sea ice buffered the natural variations in climate and maintained a continuity of ice cover, even in the warmest years. With the shift to annual ice that is quicker to melt and reform, the extent of open water is now much more variable from year-to-year, and this variability is increasing, along with the average duration of open water.28 In addition, and as a further result of global change, the Arctic climate is becoming more variable, with episodes of extreme warming becoming more frequent. In winter this warming can result in added snow fall, which limits light penetration through first year ice, affecting both sea ice algae and animals dependent upon early spring production. This unpredictability from year-to-year may impair the synchronization between marine food web levels such as ice-associated algae and the zooplankton reproduction cycle.29 Other movements of animals are tightly coupled at the edge of the sea ice, in the marginal ice zone. More variable conditions can create stress for marine mammals, such as narwhals that become trapped in open water, with new ice blocking their exit.30

In most parts of the Arctic Ocean, the sea water remains cold throughout the year, and Arctic marine biota are therefore adapted to optimal growth and reproduction at low temperatures. For example, the most abundant photosynthetic cells in the Arctic Ocean plankton, minute green algae, grow rapidly at near-zero temperatures and have impaired growth above 6°C.31 Warming of Arctic seas may impose a stress on these organisms at the base of the food web, and favour invading species from the south. Modelling of Arctic cod based on its physiological temperature limits indicated that there could be a 17 percent decrease in Arctic cod populations in the western Canadian Arctic over the course of this century caused by thermal stress effects.32 Experimental studies on the endemic Arctic seaweed (kelp) Laminaria solidungula indicate that this important species is physiologically stressed by rising temperature and decreasing salinity, and that this combination of stresses could drive it to local extinction in the future.33 Other Arctic species may be more resilient to such changes, and may even become more abundant with increasing light and warming, for example, crustose coralline algae in subtidal seas.34

The inflows and circulation regimes of the Arctic Ocean are changing through several factors driven by global climate change. Precipitation is increasing and this is resulting in more freshwater runoff into the Arctic Ocean, with large ongoing changes expected in the near future.35 Through increasing river flow and sea ice melt, the Arctic Ocean is freshening faster than other parts of the ocean. Changes in salinity also affect the vertical structure of the water column, favouring a shift to smaller size phytoplankton that thrive at lower nutrient levels.36 This change from more diatom-dominated communities to smaller algae alters food web dynamics, as large Arctic copepods are dependent on the larger algal species. The loss of these large lipid-rich Arctic copepods (Calanus glacialis) would impair Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida), which are the primary food source for seals.37 It may be noteworthy that decreasing salinity results in lower density waters that directly affect ship buoyancy; this raises the issue of the need for specific Arctic load lines to ensure safe freeboard.38

Thinner sea ice means that it is more mobile and that ice transport rates are accelerating. In addition, there is evidence pointing to recent increases in the influx of Atlantic water, bringing in more heat as well as new biota. This ‘Atlantification’ of the Arctic Ocean may be to the benefit of more southern species, including zooplankton. A small, boreal copepod species (Calanus finmarchicus) is found in Atlantic waters, but appears to be gaining prominence further northwards, close to the ice edge in Fram Strait39 and potentially competing with the key species C. glacialis, to the detriment of the extant Arctic Ocean food web. C. finmarchicus is but one of several marine species that may profit from global climate change and the increased opportunities for invasion and establishment in the Arctic basin. For example, there has been a rise in killer whale sightings in the region, which may reflect the longer open water conditions, among other factors. Population increases of this top predator are likely to continue in the future, which would add further pressure on narwhal populations.40 Killer whales can also attack the young of bowhead whales, which are in greater danger of coming into contact with this predator as their ice refuge shrinks.41

UV radiation is another potential stress on marine food webs because of its many effects on biological processes, ranging from cellular mutagenesis to physiological and life cycle impacts. The banning of chlorofluorocarbons, brought about by the 1985 Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and its 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer,42 has slowed the loss of stratospheric ozone that acts as a UV shield for Earth; however, Arctic ozone depletion events are still recorded, including record losses in spring of 2020.43 In addition, the loss of sea ice is resulting in a sudden increase in UV exposure to underwater communities that have been shaded in the past.

Many contaminants are concentrated at high latitudes because of long-range transport and condensation processes. The global use of persistent organic pollutants (POP s) is now reduced as a result of international agreements, including the 1979 Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution and its 1998 Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution on Persistent Organic Pollutants and the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.44 However, POP s are still in evidence in the Arctic, including in apex predators, such as polar bears.45 Emerging contaminants are rapidly transported to the Arctic; for example, perfluorinated chemicals have been detected in the anadromous fish species Salvelinus alpinus (Arctic char), even in the northernmost lakes of the Canadian High Arctic that connect to the sea.46 Other contaminants are continuing to rise, including mercury. This is in part due to the mobilization of heavy metals from thawing permafrost landscapes47 and transport by rivers into the Arctic Ocean, which also transport pollutants over long distances from human activities in the South. Plastic litter is now appearing in the Arctic Ocean in large quantities, and is an indicator of more general pollution. The area has become a global accumulation site for plastic particles, which are brought in by ocean circulation pathways.48 For example, there are large influxes of polyester fibres, a major component of microplastics pollution, into the Arctic basin via inflowing currents from the Atlantic Ocean.49 Ingested plastics have now been detected in Arctic marine organisms at almost all levels of the food web.50

Arctic seas are also increasingly subject to the rapidly increasing stress of acidification, and more so than anywhere else in the world ocean. Ocean acidification refers to the decrease in pH of seawater as it absorbs more carbon dioxide because of the rising concentrations in the atmosphere. This process is of particular concern for marine biota that precipitate calcium carbonates to form part of their biological structure, notably shellfish, pteropods (‘sea butterflies’) and certain corals. Increased acidification causes these structures to not form properly or to even dissolve, impairing survival, growth and reproduction. The Arctic Ocean is especially prone to acidification because its dissolved carbonate is naturally low, due to its cold temperature and dilution by the large river inflows. Furthermore, the solubility of gases such as carbon dioxide increases with decreasing temperature; consequently, the cold polar oceans have the greatest absorption capacity for this greenhouse gas. The alarming potential for major changes in pH was first signaled more than a decade ago,51 and current models show that under a business as usual scenario, both mineral forms of calcium carbonate (aragonite and the more stable calcite) would be soluble by the end of this century,52 posing an environmental threat for some Arctic species.

Climate change, sea ice loss, contaminants and food web perturbation are all of vital concern to the Indigenous communities that live at the Arctic coast in close association with the marine environment.53 In their assessment of Arctic shipping in the context of these global changes, the Inuit Circumpolar Council identified a wide range of issues, especially those relating to the health of marine ecosystems that Inuit depend upon for traditional food supplies, culture and general well-being.54

4 Ecological Consequences of Arctic Shipping

The impacts of shipping on marine life occur at multiple levels, from effects on individuals and populations, to perturbation of biological communities, food webs and ecosystems. In Canada, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans has developed a detailed framework to assess these impacts by way of ‘Pathway of Effects’ (PoE) conceptual models.55 These involve identifying the known linkages between shipping activities, stressors and effects, and then assessing the ecological risk associated with these specific pathways relative to the conservation goals within a particular area. Stressors that would be relevant to such an assessment can be separated into three categories: chemical, physical and biological.

4.1 Chemical Pollution

The most devastating effects of shipping on Arctic Ocean ecosystems would be through oil pollution, resulting, for example, from vessel collisions or grounding. These have the potential to cause serious impacts anywhere in the world, but the consequences for northern marine environments are worsened by several factors that are specific to the Arctic and to cold polar seas. The remoteness of the Arctic Ocean and the sparse distribution of land-based infrastructure mean that clean-up operations would be slow to mobilize and difficult to ramp up, with activities further constrained by the severe weather conditions at high latitudes. Microbes that degrade hydrocarbons do occur naturally in the polar oceans, but incubation experiments with Arctic seawater show that their degradation rates are extremely slow at the cold ambient temperatures.56 Similarly, evaporation rates are slow in the cold, and the ocean currents and increasingly mobile sea ice would likely disperse the oil spills over large areas and extensive tracts of coastline. Finally, the specialized food webs of the Arctic Ocean, already under stress, have limited resilience to chemical pollution and would likely collapse in the face of this type of catastrophic event.

The impacts of oil pollution can persist well into the future. When the oil tanker TV Exxon Valdez ran aground in subarctic Prince William Sound, Alaska, in 1989, the resultant oil pollution caused the death of 250,000 seabirds, thousands of marine mammals and millions of fish eggs. In addition to these acute impacts, there were chronic effects on the coastal ecosystem. A pod of killer whales that were heavily impacted will likely never recover, and 27 years later, patches of oil were still found on the beaches and are likely to persist for decades longer.57 To assess the socioeconomic impacts of a potential oil spill on a community in the Canadian Arctic, a recent study simulated the conditions of an Exxon Valdez spill in the Rankin Inlet region and asked a broad range of respondents with different backgrounds and expertise to evaluate this scenario.58 The simulation indicated that social as well as financial costs would increase through time over several years associated with the impacts on hunting, the local economy, culture and social activities, with lasting psychological effects and legal costs.

In regular shipping operations, chemical pollution can occur from multiple types of discharges from underway or anchored vessels, including antifouling substances, ballast water, black water, grey water, tank cleaning, cooling water, scrubber water, bilge water, propeller shaft lubricants, solid waste and atmospheric pollution.59 Atmospheric releases from ships include black carbon (soot) and other particles that absorb light and accelerate the melting of snow and ice that they settle upon, along with sulphur and nitrogen oxides that are biologically and chemically active. A study in a remote Svalbard fjord showed that the presence of tourist ships increased fine particle concentrations in the local atmosphere by up to 81 percent, and the observations implied that large areas of the Svalbard archipelago already experience some chemical influence from shipping.60 A model analysis for the Canadian Arctic indicated that the effects of shipping are currently low, but that further shipping expansion up to the year 2030 could increase total deposition of pollutants by 20 percent for sulphur, 50 percent for nitrogen and up to 30 percent for black carbon.61 The deposition of ship-derived acidic sulphur and nitrogen oxides may also influence Arctic freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems. In a chemical study of more than 1,000 Arctic Canadian lakes, a high percentage were found to be sensitive to acid deposition, which would impair their habitat quality for Arctic char.62

4.2 Physical Stressors

Noise pollution by ships has become an ecological threat of increasing concern throughout the world ocean,63 and although much of the Arctic Ocean is acoustically quiet, ship noise represents a new intrusion. Arctic marine animals are known to be sensitive to noise, and ship noise pollution is already rising to levels that may be causing stress. Narwhals are especially sensitive, with reactions up to 40 km distant from a ship and cessation of foraging at distances of 7–8 km.64 A recent analysis has identified noise risk hotspots at the eastern end of the Northwest Passage where there is a combination of elevated shipping noise and high population densities of narwhals and seabirds.65

Ice integrity is critical for certain ecosystem processes in the Arctic, and the timing and magnitude of icebreaker shipping activities are therefore of concern. For example, terrestrial animal migration in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago is important for genetic exchange and for access to seasonal food resources.66 The rupture of ice bridges, used by migrating animals and already weakened by climate warming, could have lasting impacts on animal populations. Surveys in the south central part of the Archipelago over the period 1977–1980 identified 73 crossing sites on sea ice for caribou. The study concluded that ship tracks through the ice would severely impede migration, and that the “the ice shelf and the ice-block rubble pushed-up along the edges of the track could be a death-trap” for caribou on the ice.67 In the Last Ice Area at the top of Canada, the ice is retained by an ice arch that forms between Ellesmere Island and Greenland. This arch appears to be weakening as a consequence of climate change,68 and extensive icebreaker activities in this area could threaten the integrity of this important conservation area.

Finally, collisions with marine animals are unlikely events, but the probability increases with increasing ship traffic, and incidents have been reported for dozens of species throughout the world.69 Some Arctic animals may be especially susceptible. In an analysis of bowhead whales harvested in Alaska from the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Seas population, about 1 percent showed scars from ship collisions70 and even sublethal strikes increase the stress on animals that are contending with multiple other pressures. In a vulnerability assessment of 80 subpopulations of seven Arctic marine mammals in the Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage, more than half were exposed to open water vessel routes, with narwhals the most vulnerable given their high sensitivity and exposure.71

4.3 Biological Effects

Ships are well known vectors for the transfer of new species into marine ecosystems, often with severe ecological and economic consequences. In the Arctic, of 54 known species invasions, 39 percent could be attributed to ships, via either ballast water or by fouling of the ship hull.72 Under the 2004 International Convention for the Control and Management of Ship’s Ballast Water and Sediments, ships are required to exchange their ballast waters at sea to avoid biological contamination of ports and coastal areas,73 but modelling of ballast water discharges in the Arctic indicate that currents may then transport such waters to localized coastal areas where invasive species may accumulate and perhaps establish.74 Climate change is likely to accelerate the habitat expansion of some invasive species. For example, the European brown shrimp (Crangon crangon) is thought to have entered Icelandic coastal waters via ship ballast in the early 2000s. It is now well established there, and has become an important predator of plaice (Pleureonectes platessa), a commercially valuable fish species.75 Along with several other invasive species, the northward expansion of brown shrimp is likely, and may be favoured by climate warming.76 Potential biological effects by ship discharges under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) have not been evaluated in the Arctic, but local pelagic as well as bottom-dwelling communities could be impacted by discharge of pathogens and invasive species.

5 Policy Directions to Minimize Shipping Impacts

As a consequence of climate change and other global processes, the Arctic Ocean is experiencing large-scale perturbations that are likely to worsen over the course of this century. Plans to extend shipping routes and increase traffic must therefore be evaluated with the knowledge that not only do Arctic marine ecosystems have unique ecological features requiring special care and protection, but they also have uniquely limited resilience to environmental change, which is already pushing these biological systems to their limits. Shipping now imposes a new set of pressures on Arctic ecosystems and their increasingly stressed biota and food chains. Efforts to avoid catastrophic impacts are required at multiple levels, from global mitigation of carbon emissions to protect and restore Arctic sea ice, to the strengthening of pollution prevention, safety and emergency standards and protocols, the establishment and expansion of marine protected areas, and further scrutiny and regulation of maritime practices in north polar waters.

The risk of invasive marine species from the south via ship hulls and ballast water, as well as the risk of accidental and operational discharge of pollutants, such as oil, noxious liquid substances and sewage, in frigid Arctic waters that have little capacity for microbial breakdown of pollutants require stringent measures of prevention and response. Recognition of the risks related to discharge has prompted the negotiation of the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code).77 This landmark instrument contains both guidelines and regulations. The latter have become mandatory through amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)78 and MARPOL,79 and both parts of this instrument are relevant to protecting Arctic marine ecosystems. There is a need for continued efforts to broaden the scope of these provisions in the light of new ecological information about the Arctic Ocean and its biota, and more stringent regulations are required. Revisions to the Polar Code should be based on the precautionary approach, with restrictions on substances and activities, even if the exact extent of their harmfulness is not yet scientifically determined.

Efforts to further strengthen existing rules and standards also need to continue beyond the framework of the Polar Code. Regarding the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) and ship emissions, such as sulphur and black carbon, restrictions greatly lessen the extent of atmospheric pollution. Modeling analysis of the Canadian Arctic showed that emission controls, such as those applied to the current North American Emission Control Area created under MARPOL in 2011,80 would substantially reduce the impact of shipping on atmospheric pollutants in this region.81 Combustion of HFO results in the highest marine fuel emissions of black carbon, sulphur and other pollutants; additionally, release of this fuel type into the water would be especially dangerous for Arctic marine ecosystems given its high viscosity, slow degradation and likelihood of being trapped and transported by the sea ice. Although a ban on the carriage and use of HFO s by ships in Arctic waters will take effect on 1 July 2024, exemptions and waivers will remain applicable until 1 July 2029.82 Furthermore, the sulphur content in fuel oil used by ships worldwide, including in the Arctic, has been limited to a maximum amount of 0.5 percent m/m (mass by mass) since 1 January 2020.83 However, uncertainties remain about the behaviour of lower sulphur marine fuels in the Arctic, including the question of whether they may in some cases generate higher black carbon emissions.84 Between 2015 and 2019, black carbon emissions grew by 72 percent for ships using HFO in the Arctic and by 85 percent overall for all ships operating in the Arctic.85 International Maritime Organization discussions on how best to protect the Arctic from black carbon emissions of ships are underway,86 but for the time being, States and ship operators are simply invited “to voluntarily use distillate or other cleaner alternative fuels or methods of propulsion.”87

The high sensitivity of Arctic marine animals to noise is now supported by recent scientific analyses (described above), yet only general, non-binding Guidelines for the Reduction of Underwater Noise from Commercial Shipping to Address Adverse Impacts on Marine Life exist at present.88 As these 2014 Guidelines are currently undergoing revision,89 there may be a window of opportunity to specifically address noise caused by shipping in polar waters and to work towards binding regulations.

Marine protected areas (MPA s), defined broadly as “clearly defined geographical spaces recognized, dedicated, and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values,”90 offer an approach to reduce the overall stress on ecosystems by providing wildlife refugia in which local environmental pressures are removed or at least reduced. There are international efforts to link MPA s across the Arctic, and to maximize the conservation value of these regions for further expansion and protection at a basin-wide scale.91 The establishment of such conservation zones, however, has not always been entirely successful in limiting ship traffic, or even designed to do so. For example, in the provisional MPA Tuvaijuittuq, north of Ellesmere Island, created with the aim of protecting the Last Ice Area of the Arctic, tourist ships and research vessels could be visitors in the longer term provided they have the capacity to break the very ice that the MPA is intended to protect. The largest increases in Canadian Arctic shipping have ironically been in a marine conservation area, the Tallurutiup Imanga at the eastern end of the Northwest Passage, where shipping length per year increased twofold between 2009 and 2018. These increases were driven mostly by the development of the large-scale Mary River iron ore mine, and much greater shipping activity is expected in the near future if current plans for expansion of the mine go ahead.92 Such industrial developments should be subject to rigorous environmental impact assessments that extend to the shipping activities they generate, given the global pressures on the Arctic Ocean ecosystem, the need to minimize additional stressors in the face of these pressures, and the exceptional importance of Arctic marine refuges like the Tallurutiup Imanga. The legal framework of such impact assessments is analyzed in detail by Doelle et al. in this volume.

A selective and focused approach may help reconcile the contradictory needs for shipping activities and environmental protection. Certain areas would benefit from seasonal protection of ice integrity, essential for example in the Northwest Passage during the season of caribou migration over the sea ice, critical phases of marine mammal activity and periods when Indigenous hunters are on the ice. Localized measures may be another valuable approach. Among those, routeing measures, which may be adopted under SOLAS Chapter V,93 are an effective tool to reduce noise disturbance and ship strikes. Routeing measures may establish areas-to-be-avoided, including seasonal exclusions from shipping during marine animal migration periods.94 Mandated reductions in ship speed and noise could also prove to be significant mitigation measures.95 Ongoing improvements in the automated monitoring of animal migrations and noise signatures of individual ships may eventually allow real-time decisions to be made for ecologically safe speeds and routeing. These regulatory schemes, including their technological support for an even more targeted effect, should be an integral part of the initiative of low-impact corridors for shipping in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, currently developed under the leadership of the Canadian Coast Guard, the Canadian Hydrographic Service and Transport Canada, and portrayed in more detail by Dawson and Song in this volume.


Our research on Arctic environmental issues is supported by NSERC, SSHRC, FRQNT, ArcticNet (NCE), Sentinel North (CFREF) and the Canada Research Chair program. We thank Vincent Bonin-Palardy for assistance with manuscript preparation, and Aldo Chircop for insightful review comments. This is a contribution to the IASC project Terrestrial Multidisciplinary distributed Observatories for the Study of Arctic Connections (T-MOSAiC).


Malte Humpert, “Russia’s Northern Sea Route Sees Record Cargo Volume in 2018,” High North News, 20 February 2019,


Jackie Dawson et al., “Temporal and Spatial Patterns of Ship Traffic in the Canadian Arctic from 1990 to 2015,” Arctic 71 (2018): 15–26, See also Lasserre in this volume.


Lawrence R. Mudryk et al., “Impact of 1, 2 and 4° C of Global Warming on Ship Navigation in the Canadian Arctic,” Nature Climate Change 11 (2021): 673–679,


See also Lasserre in this volume.


Frédéric Lasserre, “Arctic Shipping: A Contrasted Expansion of a Largely Destinational Market,” in The GlobalArctic Handbook, eds., Matthias Finger and Lassi Heininen (Berlin: Springer, 2018), 83–100,


Mudryk et al. (n 3).


Connie Lovejoy et al., “Plankton,” in State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report, CAFF (Akureyri: Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) International Secretariat, 2017), 63–83,


Samuel Chaffron et al., “Environmental Vulnerability of the Global Ocean Epipelagic Plankton Community Interactome,” Science Advances 7 (2021): eabg1921,


Mary-Louise Timmermans and John Marshall, “Understanding Arctic Ocean Circulation: A Review of Ocean Dynamics in a Changing Climate,” Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 125 (2020): 1031–1032,


Richard B. Lammers et al., “Assessment of Contemporary Arctic River Runoff Based on Observational Discharge Records,” Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 106 (2001): 3321–3334,


Martin Jakobsson, “Hypsometry and Volume of the Arctic Ocean and its Constituent Seas,” Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 3 (2002),


William D. Halliday, Matthew K. Pine and Stephen J. Insley, “Underwater Noise and Arctic Marine Mammals: Review and Policy Recommendations,” Environmental Reviews 28:4 (2020): 438–448,


Id., 439.


Marika M. Holland and Cecilia M. Bitz, “Polar Amplification of Climate Change in Coupled Models,” Climate Dynamics 21 (2003): 221–232, doi: 10.1007/s00382-003-0332-6.


IPCC, Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR15) (Geneva: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), World Meteorological Organization, 2018), retrieved from


Warwick F. Vincent, “Arctic climate Change: Local Impacts, Global Consequences, and Policy Implications,” in The Palgrave Handbook of Arctic Policy and Politics, eds., Ken S. Coates and Carin Holroyd (UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), 507–526, doi:10.1007/978-3 -030-20557-7_31.


Robert Newton, Stephanie Pfirman, L. Bruno Tremblay and Patricia DeRepentigny, “Defining the ‘Ice Shed’ of the Arctic Ocean’s Last Ice Area and Its Future Evolution,” Earth’s Future 9 (2021): e2021EF001988,


Warwick F. Vincent and Derek Mueller, “Witnessing Ice Habitat Collapse in the Arctic,” Science 370 (2020): 1031–1032,


Sierra Pope, Luke Copland and Derek Mueller, “Loss of Multiyear Landfast Sea Ice from Yelverton Bay, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada,” Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 44 (2012): 210–221,


Adrienne White and Luke Copland, “Area Change of Glaciers across Northern Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, between ~1999 and ~2015,” Journal of Glaciology 64 (2018): 609–623, doi: 10.1017/jog.2018.49.


David Docquier and Torben Koenigk, “A Review of Interactions between Ocean Heat Transport and Arctic Sea Ice,” Environmental Research Letters 16 (2021): 123002,


Newton, Pfirman, Tremblay and DeRepentigny. (n 17).


David N. Thomas (ed.), Sea Ice, 3rd ed. (Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2017).


Nadja S. Steiner et al., “Climate Change Impacts on Sea-Ice Ecosystems and Associated Ecosystem Services,” Elementa Science of the Anthropocene 9 (2021): 00007,


Kristin L. Laidre et al., “Quantifying the Sensitivity of Arctic Marine Mammals to Climate‐induced Habitat Change,” Ecological Applications 18 (2008): S97–S125,


Anthony M. Pagano and Terrie M. Williams, “Physiological Consequences of Arctic Sea Ice Loss on Large Marine Carnivores: Unique Responses by Polar Bears and Narwhals,” Journal of Experimental Biology 224 (2021): jeb228049,




Mathieu Ardyna and Kevin Robert Arrigo, “Phytoplankton Dynamics in a Changing Arctic Ocean,” Nature Climate Change 10 (2020): 892–903,


Thibaud Dezutter et al., “Mismatch between Microalgae and Herbivorous Copepods Due to the Record Sea Ice Minimum Extent of 2012 and the Late Sea Ice Break-up of 2013 in the Beaufort Sea,” Progress in Oceanography 173 (2019): 66–77,


Pagano and Williams (n 26).


Connie Lovejoy, Ramon Massana and Carlos Pedrós-Alió, “Diversity and Distribution of Marine Microbial Eukaryotes in the Arctic Ocean and Adjacent Seas,” Applied and Environmental Microbiology 72 (2006): 3085–3095,


Nadja S. Steiner et al., “Impacts of the Changing Ocean-Sea Ice System on the Key Forage Fish Arctic Cod (Boreogadus saida) and Subsistence Fisheries in the Western Canadian Arctic—Evaluating Linked Climate, Ecosystem and Economic (CEE) Models,” Frontiers in Marine Science 6 (2019): 179,


Nora Diehl, Ulf Karsten and Kai Bischof, “Impacts of Combined Temperature and Salinity Stress on the Endemic Arctic Brown Seaweed Laminaria solidungula J. Agardh,” Polar Biology 43 (2020): 647–656,


Branwen Williams et al., “Arctic Crustose Coralline Alga Resilient to Recent Environmental Change,” Limnology and Oceanography 66 (2021): S246–S258.


Michelle R. McCrystall et al., “New Climate Models Reveal Faster and Larger Increases in Arctic Precipitation than Previously Projected,” Nature Communications 12 (2021): 6765,


William K.W. Li, Fiona A. McLaughlin, Connie Lovejoy and Eddy C. Carmack, “Smallest Algae Thrive as the Arctic Ocean Freshens,” Science 326 (2009): 539–539,


Caroline Bouchard and Louis Fortier, “The Importance of Calanus glacialis for the Feeding Success of Young Polar Cod: A Circumpolar Synthesis,” Polar Biology 43 (2020): 1095–1107,


Aldo Chircop et al., “Polar Load Lines for Maritime Safety: A Neglected Issue in the International Regulation of Navigation and Shipping in Arctic Waters?,” CMI Yearbook (2014): 345–356.


Geraint A. Tarling et al., “Can a Key Boreal Calanus Copepod Species Now Complete Its Life-cycle in the Arctic? Evidence and Implications for Arctic Food-webs,” Ambio 51 (2022): 333–344,


Kyle John Lefort et al., “A Review of Canadian Arctic Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) Ecology,” Canadian Journal of Zoology 98 (2020): 245–253,


Cory J.D. Matthews, Greg A. Breed, Bernard LeBlanc and Steven H. Ferguson, “Killer Whale Presence Drives Bowhead Whale Selection for Sea Ice in Arctic Seascapes of Fear,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 117 (2020): 6590–6598,


Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, 22 March 1985 (in force 22 September 1988), 1513 UNTS 293; Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, 16 September 1987 (in force 1 January 1989), 1522 UNTS 3 (as amended).


Boyan Petkov et al., “The 2020 Arctic Ozone Depletion and Signs of Its Effect on the Ozone Column at Lower Latitudes,” Bulletin of Atmospheric Science and Technology 2 (2021): 8,


Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution, 13 November 1979 (in force 16 March 1983), 1302 UNTS 217; Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution on Persistent Organic Pollutants, 24 June 1998 (in force 23 October 2003), 2230 UNTS 79 (as amended); Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, 22 May 2001 (in force 17 May 2004), 2256 UNTS 119 (as amended).


Heli Routti et al., “State of Knowledge on Current Exposure, Fate and Potential Health Effects of Contaminants in Polar Bears from the Circumpolar Arctic,” Science of the Total Environment 664 (2019): 1063–1083,


Julie Veillette et al., “Perfluorinated Chemicals in Meromictic Lakes on the Northern Coast of Ellesmere Island, High Arctic Canada,” Arctic 65 (2012): 245–256,


Kimberley Miner et al., “Emergent Biogeochemical Risks from Arctic Permafrost Degradation,” Nature Climate Change 11 (2021): 809–819,


Andrés Cózar et al., “The Arctic Ocean as a Dead End for Floating Plastics in the North Atlantic Branch of the Thermohaline Circulation,” Science Advances 3 (2017): e1600582,


Peter S. Ross et al., “Pervasive Distribution of Polyester Fibres in the Arctic Ocean is Driven by Atlantic Inputs,” Nature Communications 12 (2021): 106,


France Collard and Amalie Ask, “Plastic Ingestion by Arctic Fauna: A Review,” Science of the Total Environment 786 (2021): 147462,


Marco Steinacher et al., “Imminent Ocean Acidification in the Arctic Projected with the NCAR Global Coupled Carbon Cycle-Climate Model,” Biogeosciences 6 (2009): 515–533,


Jens Terhaar, Olivier Torres, Thimothée Bourgeois and Lester Kwiatkowski, “Arctic Ocean Acidification Over the 21st Century Co-driven by Anthropogenic Carbon Increases and Freshening in the CMIP6 Model Ensemble,” Biogeosciences 18 (2021): 2221–2240,


See chapters by Ell-Kanayuk and Aporta, and Beveridge in this volume.


Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), The Sea Ice Never Stops: Circumpolar Inuit Reflections on Sea Ice Use and Shipping in Inuit Nunaat (Ottawa: Inuit Circumpolar Council, 2014),


Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Science Advice for Pathways of Effects for Marine Shipping in Canada: Biological and Ecological Effects, Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, National Capital Region, Science Advisory Report 2020/030 (2020),


Ana Gomes et al., “Biodegradation of Water-accommodated Aromatic Oil Compounds in Arctic Seawater at 0°C,” Chemosphere 286 (2022): 131751,


Mace G. Barron, Deborah N. Vivian, Ron A. Heintz and Un Hyuk Yim, “Long-term Ecological Impacts from Oil Spills: Comparison of Exxon Valdez, Hebei Spirit, and Deepwater Horizon,” Environmental Science & Technology 54 (2020): 6456–6467,


Mawuli Afenyo, Adolf K.Y. Ng and Changmin Jiang, “A Multiperiod Model for Assessing the Socioeconomic Impacts of Oil Spills during Arctic Shipping,” Risk Analysis 42:3 (2022),


See Figure 2 in Jana Moldanová et al., “Framework for the Environmental Impact Assessment of Operational Shipping,” Ambio 51 (2022): 754–769,


Sabine Eckhardt et al., “The Influence of Cruise Ship Emissions on Air Pollution in Svalbard–A Harbinger of a More Polluted Arctic?,” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 13 (2013): 8401–8409,


Wanmin Gong et al., “Assessing the Impact of Shipping Emissions on Air Pollution in the Canadian Arctic and Northern Regions: Current and Future Modelled Scenarios,” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 18 (2018): 16653–16687,


Tanner Liang and Julian Aherne, “Critical Loads of Acidity and Exceedances for 1138 Lakes and Ponds in the Canadian Arctic,” Science of the Total Environment 652 (2019): 1424–1434,


Carlos M. Duarte et al., “The Soundscape of the Anthropocene Ocean,” Science 371 (2021): eaba4658,


Outi M. Tervo et al., “Narwhals React to Ship Noise and Airgun Pulses Embedded in Background Noise,” Biology Letters 17 (2021): 20210220,


William D. Halliday et al., “Vessel Risks to Marine Wildlife in the Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area and the Eastern Entrance to the Northwest Passage,” Environmental Science & Policy 127 (2022): 181–195,


For Inuit, ice is connecting people, animals, land and sea, and as such is critical to their way of life and culture; see Claudio Aporta, Stephanie C. Kane and Aldo Chircop, “Shipping Corridors Through the Inuit Homeland,” Limn 10 (Chokepoints) (2018),


Frank L. Miller, Samuel J. Barry and Wendy A. Calvert, “Sea-ice Crossings by Caribou in the South-central Canadian Arctic Archipelago and Their Ecological Importance,” Rangifer 16 (2005): 77–88,


G.W. Kent Moore et al., “Anomalous Collapses of Nares Strait Ice Arches Leads to Enhanced Export of Arctic Sea Ice,” Nature Communications 12 (2021): 1,


Renée P. Schoeman, Claire Patterson-Abrolat and Stephanie Plön, “A Global Review of Vessel Collisions with Marine Animals,” Frontiers in Marine Science 7 (2020): 292,


John C. George et al., “Frequency of Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) Attacks and Ship Collisions Based on Scarring on Bowhead Whales (Balaena mysticetus) of the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Seas Stock,” Arctic 47 (1994): 247–255,


Donna D.W. Hauser, Kristin L. Laidre and Harry L. Stern, “Vulnerability of Arctic Marine Mammals to Vessel Traffic in the Increasingly Ice-free Northwest Passage and Northern Sea Route,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America 115 (2018): 76177622,


Farrah T. Chan et al., “Climate Change Opens New Frontiers for Marine Species in the Arctic: Current Trends and Future Invasion Risks,” Global Change Biology 25 (2019): 25–38,


Adopted 13 February 2004 (in force 8 September 2017), 3282 UNTS, authentic text at, in particular Annex, Regulation B-4. In addition, according to Part II-A, 4.1 of the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code), the Guidelines for ballast water exchange in the Antarctic treaty area (International Maritime Organization (IMO) resolution MEPC.163(56)) should also be taken into consideration. Polar Code, IMO Resolution MSC.385(94) (21 November 2014, effective 1 January 2017); Amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974, IMO Resolution MSC.386(94) (21 November 2014, effective 1 January 2017); Amendments to MARPOL Annexes I, II, IV and V, IMO Resolution MEPC.265(68) (15 May 2015, effective 1 January 2017); Amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) 1978, as amended, Resolution MSC.416(97) (25 November 2016, effective 1 July 2018); Amendments to Part A of the Seafarers’ Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Code, Resolution MSC.417(97) (25 November 2016, effective 1 July 2018).


Ingrid L. Rosenhaim et al., “Simulated Ballast Water Accumulation along Arctic Shipping Routes,” Marine Policy 103 (2019): 9–18,


Björn Gunnarsson, Þór Ásgeirsson and Agnar Ingólfsson, “The Rapid Colonization by Crangon crangon (Linnaeus, 1758) (Eucarida, Caridea, Crangonidae) of Icelandic Coastal Waters,” Crustaceana 80 (2007): 747–753,


Chris Ware et al., “Biological Introduction Risks from Shipping in a Warming Arctic,” Journal of Applied Ecology 53 (2016): 340–349,


Polar Code (n 73).


Adopted 1 November 1974 (in force 25 May 1980), 1184 UNTS 278 (SOLAS), as amended by IMO Resolution MSC.386(94) (21 November 2014), in IMO, Report of the Maritime Safety Committee on its Ninety-Fourth Session, Annex 7, IMO Doc MSC 94/21/Add.1 (27 November 2014).


International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 2 November 1973, 1340 UNTS 184, as amended by Protocol of 1978 Relating to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships of 1973, 17 February 1978 (both in force 2 October 1983), 1340 UNTS 61 (MARPOL), as amended by IMO Resolution MEPC.265(68) (15 May 2015), in IMO, Report of the Marine Environment Protection Committee on its Sixty-eighth Session, IMO Doc MEPC 68/21/Add.1 (5 June 2015), Annex 11.


Amendments to the Annex of the Protocol of 1997 to Amend the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as Modified by the Protocol of 1978 Relating Thereto (North American Emission Control Area), IMO Resolution MEPC.190(60), 26 March 2010, IMO Doc MEPC 60/22 (17 June 2010), Annex 11.


Gong et al. (n 61).


Amendments to MARPOL Annex I (Prohibition on the Use and Carriage for Use as Fuel of Heavy Fuel Oil by Ships in Arctic Waters), IMO Resolution MEPC.329(76), 17 June 2021, IMO Doc MEPC 76/15/Add.2 (12 July 2021), Annex 2.


Amendments to MARPOL Annex VI (Prohibition on the Carriage of Non-Compliant Fuel Oil for Combustion Purposes for Propulsion or Operation on Board a Ship), IMO Resolution MEPC.305(73), 26 October 2018, IMO Doc MEPC 73/19/Add.1 (26 October 2018), Annex 1.


Franciso Malta, “Why New VLSFO 0.5% Sulphur Fuels Emit Higher Black Carbon Emissions,” Safety4Sea, 10 July 2020,


Bryan Comer, Liudmila Osipova, Elise Georgeff, and Xiaoli Mao, The International Maritime Organization’s Proposed Arctic Heavy Fuel Oil Ban: Likely Impacts and Opportunities for Improvement (International Council on Clean Transportation, September 2020), available online


Protecting the Arctic from Shipping Black Carbon Emissions, IMO Resolution MEPC.342(77), 26 November 2021, IMO Doc MEPC 77/16/Add.1 (16 December 2021), Annex 3.




Guidelines for the Reduction of Underwater Noise from Commercial Shipping to Address Adverse Impacts on Marine Life, IMO MEPC.1/Circ.833 (7 April 2014).


Secretariat, Outcome of MEPC 76 on the Review of MEPC.1/Circ.833, IMO Doc SDC 8/14 (1 October 2021).


PAME, Framework for a Pan-Arctic Network of Marine Protected Areas, (Akureyri: PAME International Secretariat, 2015), 11, See also Lalonde and Bankes in this volume.


PAME (n 90).


Halliday et al. (n 65).


See SOLAS (n 78), Regulation V/10; see also General Provisions on Ships’ Routeing, IMO Resolution A.572(14), 20 November 1985, as amended.


An example of such a seasonal area to be avoided (ATBA) is the Roseway Basin ATBA, south of Nova Scotia, Canada, which aims to reduce the risk of ship strikes to right whales and is effective for the period from 1 June to 31 December. See IMO Doc MSC 83/28/Add.3 (2 November 2007), Annex 25.


Paul B. Conn and Gregory K. Silber, “Vessel Speed Restrictions Reduce Risk of Collision-related Mortality for North Atlantic Right Whales,” Ecosphere 4 (2013): 43,

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Shipping in Inuit Nunangat

Governance Challenges and Approaches in Canadian Arctic Waters



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