ECSA looks forward to the improvement of shipping conditions in the Arctic

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Patrick Verhoeven Secretary General, ECSA
Patrick Verhoeven
Patrick Verhoeven

European ship owners believe that the three priority areas of the new EU Arctic Policy Communication published by the Commission this week address all topical Arctic matters.

Climate change and environment, sustainable development and international cooperation in the Arctic are equally important.

“We appreciate the focus of the EU to the Arctic matters by developing this more coherent framework for EU action and funding programmes in the Arctic. In all follow-up actions the Arctic States should continue to be consulted by the EU”, said ECSA Secretary General Patrick Verhoeven (pictured).

Ship owners encounter challenges in polar shipping such as poor charts, lack of infrastructure and navigation control systems and low search-and-rescue capability. ECSA is pleased that these topics among others are addressed in the Commission’s communication and that the EU supports the efforts to implement the International Polar Code. It is the first decisive step for safe navigation in the Arctic adopted by the primary shipping regulator, the International Maritime Organisation.

“Instead of establishing additional forums however, we believe that it is more efficient to stimulate the existing ones to better coordinate action in the Arctic. We believe that this approach reduces overlapping and leads to better ocean governance. With this in mind, we anticipate the full implementation of the EU observes status in the Arctic Council,” he added.

ECSA welcomes the fact that the EU is expected to maintain its current funding levels for Arctic research. European ship owners believe that not only a proper regulatory framework should be in place but investment should be focused on improved infrastructure, satellite observation and search and rescue capabilities. In this context, the resources of European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) on maritime surveillance and vessel traffic monitoring could be expanded also in the arctic waters.

“We endorse all initiatives that will concretely improve the polar shipping conditions. We find that enhancing the safety of navigation in the Arctic is essential. We also see an EU added value on Arctic research and therefore we warmly welcome any initiatives that increase our knowledge of the seabed of the Arctic waters”, concluded Mr Verhoeven.