By the Canadian Press
High Arctic waters could be a step closer to receiving their first environmental protections this week as representatives from more than 100 countries take a preliminary vote on rules for safe, clean shipping in the region.
The vote, expected Oct. 16 or 17, is happening at a meeting in London of a committee of the International Maritime Organization concerning the proposed Polar Code.
“This week, it looks as if the environment committee is going to vote to approve the environmental section of the Polar Code,” said Kevin Harun, who has observer status at the meeting. He’s a member of the non-governmental organization Pacific Environment.
Northern countries such as Canada already have tough regulations on what’s allowed in the Arctic, but those rules don’t cover the central Arctic Ocean beyond territorial waters. The Polar Code, which is binding, would offer some protection for those seas in addition to codes of practice covering all oceans.
“The belief here is that the Arctic is so much more sensitive,” Harun said.
Other parts of the code being considered separately contain provisions outlining three different levels of ice capability for ship construction. They also deal with required equipment and crew training.
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