Arctic shipping file photo. Credit: Shutterstock

Arctic shipping file photo. Credit: Shutterstock

reuters logoBy Gwladys Fouche

OSLO, June 5 (Reuters) – A code regulating shipping in the high Arctic, where maritime traffic is expected to increase as the ice cap recedes, is due to be implemented in 2016, the U.N. shipping agency said.

Shipping along the Arctic northern sea route is set to grow more than 30-fold over the next eight years and could account for a quarter of the cargo traffic between Europe and Asia by 2030.

“We are preparing a mandatory code for polar navigation,” Koji Sekimizu, secretary-general of the United Nations International Maritime Organisation (IMO), said on Wednesday.

“It will be operational in 2015 (and) will probably be implemented in 2016.”

The code aims to ensure safe navigation in a fragile ecological environment, where infrastructure is few and help in case of an accident is far away.

“A new code will govern all technical requirements covering design and operations,” Sekimizu told reporters.

“It will ensure the competence of seafarers … We will ensure that unless we have trained competent seafarers on board to navigate, then that vessel cannot be allowed to navigate.”

With global warming thawing sea ice, the route, which runs along Russia’s northern coast and links Europe with ports in East Asia, is opening for longer and longer each year. (Editing by James Jukwey)

(c) 2013 Thomson Reuters, Click For Restrictions

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