Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum

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    Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum - 5th Meeting summary Report
    The fifth meeting of the Arctic Council’s Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum took place virtually on 16-18 November 2021. This was the first Forum meeting Chaired by Russia. The new Forum Chair is Mr. Sergey Tolmachev, Counsellor, Mission of the Russian Federation to the International Maritime Organization. Over 180 registrants representing nearly 90 different entities and organizations participated in the three-day meeting. The theme this year was The Polar Code: Nearly Five Years On, reflecting both the length of time that the International Maritime Organization’s International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code) has been in force and the experience gained in implementing it during that time. In opening the meeting, Dr. Vitaly Klyuev, Director of the Department of the State Policy for Maritime and Inland Waterways Transport, Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation, emphasized that “the Forum contributes to the consistent and uniform implementation of the Polar Code by all parties which in turn is a prerequisite for safe and environmentally sound shipping in the Arctic.” Addressing the Forum, Dr. Heike Deggim, the International Maritime Organization’s Director of Maritime Safety, said: “We greatly value the opportunity to participate in this Forum given its relevance for the ongoing polar work in IMO. I would like to express my gratitude to the organizers of the Forum who have worked hard to establish and run the Web Portal, providing vital information, in quite a leading and unique way, which sets an example for others, to enhance and facilitate IMO’s regulatory work.” The Forum was established in 2017 by the eight Arctic States (Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States) to raise awareness and promote the effective implementation of the Polar Code. The Forum also draws on experience from Antarctica, with representation from that polar region. The Forum advances awareness and effective implementation of the Polar Code in several ways, primarily through its annual meeting and a dedicated Web Portal - accessible at - that it maintains and regularly upgrades with authoritative information from intergovernmental bodies and widely recognized industry, non-governmental, indigenous, and academic organizations, pertaining to each and every provision of the Polar Code. This information is of vital interest to those involved in safe and environmentally sound Arctic shipping, including shipowners and operators, regulators, classification societies, marine insurers, indigenous and local communities, amongst others. Forum Participants heard how usage of the Web portal increased by 20.6 % in the past year despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Presentations by more than 25 experts at the meeting addressed a wide range of topics, including ongoing efforts to advance harmonized interpretations of the Polar Code, reports on progress made in providing search and rescue and emergency marine response, updates on ice navigation and ice pilotage services, and the latest decision support and communication tools available to facilitate safe and environmentally sound navigation and voyage planning in the Arctic. Highlights were the live presentation from the bridge of the Swedish Icebreaker Oden in which the Ship’s Master and its Chief Officer described operating conditions in the High North as far as the North Pole, and a presentation by Russia’s Northern Sea Route Administration highlighting the significant increase in tonnage using the route. Russia’s Sergey Tolmachev, the Forum Chair and Counsellor, Mission of the Russian Federation to the IMO said: “Over the years, the Forum and its Web portal have become an excellent platform for sharing expertise and knowledge on the Polar Code, and together we will be able to make it even more useful for everyone interested in Arctic shipping.” THE FORUM COORDINATING COMMITTEE • Sergey Tolmachev (Forum Chair, Russian Federation) • Peter Oppenheimer (PAME Shipping Expert Group Co-Chair, United States) • Drummond Fraser (PAME Shipping Expert Group Co-Chair, Canada) • Sverrir Konráðsson (Former Forum Chair, Iceland) • Michael Kingston (Special advisor to PAME, Ireland) • Soffía Guðmundsdóttir (PAME Executive Secretary) • Hjalti Hreinsson (PAME Secretariat)
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    Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum - 4th Meeting summary Report
    The Arctic Council’s Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum (the Forum) convened virtually on 24th – 25 th November 2020 for the fourth time since its inception in 2017. The purpose of the Forum is to support effective implementation of the IMO Polar Code by making publicly available on a dedicated Web Portal information relevant to all those involved in safe and environmentally sound Arctic shipping, including shipowners/operators, regulators, classification societies, marine insurers, and indigenous and local communities, amongst others. The original meeting was scheduled to take place at IMO Headquarters in London on 11th -12th May 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The theme of the 4 th Forum meeting was The Polar Code: Trending Toward Success. The overarching focus was the identification of information to support implementation of the Polar Code, with important aspects of interpretation highlighted including the human element, voyage planning, amongst others, with important presentations from key Forum Participants One of the key topics and a source of considerable debate was the Polar Operational Limitations Assessment Risk Indexing System (POLARIS), which is currently scheduled in IMO’s work plan for review in 2021, subject to proposals put forward by IMO Members States and affiliations. The meeting was chaired by Iceland’s Sverrir Konráðsson. Co-chairs were Peter Oppenheimer (United States) and Drummond Fraser (Canada), who co-chair PAME’s Shipping Expert Group, supported by the PAME Secretariat, and Forum Organizing Committee member, Michael Kingston, a Special Advisor to PAME, who also represented IMO at the meeting. The meeting agenda, available in Annex I, included 16 presentations from various Forum Participants. Presentations are available in Annex II. The meeting commenced with Chair Sverrir Konráðsson emphasising the importance of holding Forum meetings to continue the Forum’s work despite the current COVID-19 restrictions. This was underlined by the large attendance, in part due the ease of attending a virtual meeting rather then travelling to a face-to-face meeting, as well as the support of IMO in highlighting the Forum through Circulars to all IMO Member States and Affiliates. Attendance rose by over 80% to 147 individuals, far exceeding last year’s total of 80 individuals who attended the 3rd annual Forum meeting. Participants included representatives of the Arctic States, Permanent Participants, Observer States and Observer Organization (such as IMO and WMO), shipowners, classification societies and intergovernmental organizations, amongst others, involved in implementing, complying with and/or making information available to support the implementation of or compliance with the Polar Code. The Forum Organizing Committee distributed a follow-up meeting survey, to solicit feedback and suggestions from Participants The survey response are important in helping shape the focus and organization of subsequent Forum meetings. The Committee also sent out a call to the Participants to review and enhance information for the Web Portal to further strengthen the Forum’s ability to support Arctic shipping stakeholders. The Forum also encouraged Participants to make financial contributions to help the Forum’s sustainability. The Forum Web-Portal is the foundation upon which most of the Forum’s efforts are tied. Efforts to advance the Web-Portal are continuous. An overview of the Web-Portal was presented by Michael Kingston, available here. In the welcome it was noted that the Forum’s Web Portal has become a “treasure trove” for Arctic navigators, seeing significant expansion of information submitted since the previous Forum’s meeting. This also highlighted the importance of the intersessional work undertaken in the organising and processing of the information in order to appear on the Web Portal. Comments were invited on the proposition that the remit of the Forum be expanded to include the safety and sustainability of all Arctic maritime operations, perhaps outside the parameters of the Polar Code. The Survey results will be analysed and this consideration discussed further. The PAME Secretariat and the Forum Organizing Committee deeply appreciate the support of all Participants. It is pleasing to see that this collective effort is paying dividends in that the Forum and Web Portal is gaining traction, coverage, and significant respect in the international arena. It is starting to achieve both PAME and the Participants’ objectives for safe shipping and the protection of our environment, and the concerns of the Arctic’s inhabitants, based on a collaborative approach.
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    Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum - 3rd Meeting summary Report
    The Arctic Council’s Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum (the Forum) convened on 3-4 June 2019 for the third time since its inception in 2017, and for the first time since Iceland assumed Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. ‘From Theory to Practice’ was the overarching theme of the meeting with presentations oriented around practical experiences in implementing the Polar Code, with a particular focus on successes, impediments, and remaining challenges. The meeting commenced with opening remarks by distinguished delegates, including a video address by the Secretary-General of the IMO. Over the course of the day-and-a-half meeting, presentations focused on the unique experiences gained by Arctic States, shipowners, classification societies and intergovernmental organizations in implementing, complying with and/or making information available to support implementation of or compliance with the Polar Code. Representatives of the Forums’ Organizing Committee jointly presented on the development of the web portal (, identifying changes in design and layout (based largely on user feedback), and noting the overall increase in web traffic since initially launching. The presenters also highlighted the significant increase in hyperlink submissions, as well as the time and effort required to maintain and update this information online. This prompted discussions on the long-term sustainability of the Forum and the need for further financial or in-kind support. Indeed, before the meeting concluded, participants discussed the scheduling, logistics, and funding of future annual Forum meetings. There was a general recognition that additional support, including financial contributions, are necessary to help ensure the continued viability and vitality of Forum meetings. The Forum Coordinating Committee indicated its receptiveness to such support and committed to determining how any offers of financial contributions could be accepted consistent with applicable Arctic Council Rules. The first focus session was on progress made to date in implementing the Polar Code. The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) provided an update on additional guidance under development in support of Polar Water Operations Manuals, whereas Aker Arctic advised on POLARIS – a methodology for determining a ship’s operational capabilities and limitation in ice – noting the possible role the Forum could play in validating its efficacy. A new PAME effort to compile information on how Arctic States and Observer States understand and apply in practice the Polar Code was presented by Norway. A panel discussion focused on Polar Code implementation closed out this first session, with representatives from Stena, the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and Lloyd’s Register joining the session presenters. Building on the previous panel discussion, a second session on Polar Code implementation challenges followed focused primarily on efforts currently under way within various IMO sub-committees to address Polar Code provisions requiring further guidance or clarity. A representative of the IMO’s Maritime Safety Division highlighted work on communications at high latitudes, and efforts being undertaken by the IMO Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR) to enhance the safety and efficiency of navigation via performance standards for navigation and communications equipment. Similarly, a representative from the Norwegian Maritime Authority spoke on efforts by the IMO Sub-Committee on Ships Systems and Equipment (SSE) to develop guidelines on life-saving appliances and arrangement for ships operating in polar waters. A panel discussion closed out this session, with a representative from DNV-GL joining to discuss Polar Code provisions considered challenging to meet, including provisions on maximum expected time of rescue. The Human Element was a significant thread running throughout all discussions, though one culminating in its own dedicated focus session. A representative from the University of Stavanger presented on lessons learned from recent Norwegian Search and Rescue Exercises, particularly with respect to factors affecting survivability in Polar Regions. A presentation from the Russian Federation focused specifically on the crewing and training provisions contained in the Polar Code, while a representative from the Nautical Institute spoke on the importance of operator experience and consistent training and the benefits associated with Ice Navigators. An operator perspective was provided through a presentation by V.Ships Leisure S.A.M., underscoring the critical importance of training in reducing maritime accidents. A representative of the Arctic Coast Guard Forum accompanied the aforementioned presenters in a panel discussion that covered topics ranging from the application of indigenous knowledge, survivability, and concerns with inexperienced operators. The second day of the meeting began with a panel session on voyage planning. A joint presentation by the Clean Arctic Alliance and Environmental Investigation Agency focused on the need for vessel operators to be aware of local marine mammals, potential impacts (e.g. pollution, noise, strikes) from shipping, and how the Forum can assist with mitigating these impacts. A representative from the Aborigin Forum highlighted the importance to indigenous people of sea ice and wildlife both on and under it. ABS concluded the session with a comprehensive presentation on applying the Polar Code (e.g., conducting operational assessments), some of the trends encountered with respect to destination and transit shipping, and ice design in shipbuilding. A representative from Lloyd’s Market Association joined the panellists for a wide-ranging discussion covering insurance premiums, the consequences of an HFO ban in the Arctic, and POLARIS. The final presentation was from the perspective of a maritime student using information contained within the Forum’s web portal to conduct virtual voyage planning along the Northern Sea Route, and the benefits and shortcomings of the information contained therein.
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    Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum - 2nd Meeting summary Report
    The 2nd Meeting of the Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum (the Forum) commenced with opening remarks by distinguished delegates, including the Forum’s Chair, who emphasized the utility of the newly launched web portal as a tool for the effective implementation of the Polar Code. Specifically, Polar Ship Certificates (PSC), Polar Waters Operations Manuals (PWOM), and Operational Assessments, were identified as three key components of the Polar Code that would benefit from the authoritative and reliable information available via the web portal. Representatives of the Forums’ Organizing Committee jointly presented on the web portal (, navigating the audience through its layout (organized according to the individual chapters of the Polar Code) and hyperlinks received to date. The presenters noted that the web portal is designed to be iterative, and that both layout and substance will be continually supplemented and refined based on feedback received. At the time of launch, the web portal contained hyperlinks to over 120 sources of Polar Code relevant information. Over the course of the day-and-a-half meeting, presentations focused on the unique experiences gained by Arctic States, shipowners, classification societies and intergovernmental organizations in implementing, complying with and/or making information available to support implementation of or compliance with the Polar Code. More specifically, for those involved with implementing or complying with the Polar Code, presentations highlighted the specific type of information needed to apply for or issue a PSC, including information to prepare or review the required Operational Assessment and PWOM. For example, presentations by the Kingdom of Denmark and the Russian Federation touched upon some of the challenges facing Flag and Arctic Coastal States in implementing the Polar Code, and identified certain additional domestic measures established around Greenland and along the Northern Sea Route to address Arctic shipping safety and pollution prevention. Presentations from DNV-GL and Lloyd’s Register also highlighted some of the shared challenges encountered by classification societies regarding Polar Code implementation, therefore underscoring the need for unified interpretations wherever possible. Challenges encountered thus far include, inter alia, how to conduct operational assessments, how to model a PWOM, and how to set requirements that meet the minimum five-day rescue time provision. Wherever possible, presentations touched upon the sources of information used, why those particular sources were deemed adequate, and any challenges encountered in locating or reviewing relevant or required information. Presentations also described the types of information that - if made more readily accessible - would facilitate preparation of an application for or review and approval of a PSC or PWOM. From the perspective of a shipping company and industry association with operations in the Arctic, both Fednav and the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) noted that while significant amounts of information already exist to support the harmonized implementation of the Polar Code, the more pressing issue is identifying the right information, and to this end the web portal is considered a positive step. This notwithstanding, a related panel discussion revealed that better information on sea ice break-up/freeze-up patterns, as well as how to more accurately determine ice thickness is needed. Presentations by organizations that generate or make available information necessary for implementing or complying with the Polar Code focused on identifying that information, explaining how it is collected and/or generated, and describing any challenges encountered in making it widely available to those who need it. These presentations also identified challenges in obtaining desired information, thereby highlighting knowledge gaps. For example, the International Ice Charting Working Group (IICWG) noted the connectivity challenges associated with distributing ice information to mariners operating in the Polar Regions, as well as the difficulties determining ice thickness using satellite imagery. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) echoed similar challenges with communicating information at high latitudes, noting the WMO’s ongoing work into the development of long term Arctic weather prediction systems, and indicated the benefits of obtaining weather and ice observations from ships operating in Polar Regions (e.g. ice thickness, sea ice pressures, etc.) as a means of improving data accuracy. The Arctic Regional Hydrographic Organization (ARHC) reiterated the importance of access to timely and high-quality date for purposes of vessels safety and pollution prevention in the Arctic, and much like the presentations made by other international organizations, the ARHC’s presentation highlighted how the information the ARHC produces supports the Polar Code – in its case Chapter 9 (Safety of Navigation) and Chapter 11 (Voyage Planning).
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    Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum - 1st Meeting summary Report
    The inaugural meeting of the Arctic Shipping Best Practices Information Forum was an important milestone in identifying and gathering information to support safe and environmentally responsible Arctic shipping. The Forum is a demonstration of what can be achieved when industry, Governments, International Regulators, the Research Community, the indigenous community, and international organizations work together (encouraging public –private partnership). When Director Mahapatra of the IMO kindly addressed the Forum he indicated that the Forum is a template to be used elsewhere in the world. Overall the inaugural meeting of the Forum was a Positive meeting and everyone left with a great sense of purpose.