Arcticportal News
Russian Government to exclude Murmansk and the Barents Sea from Northern Sea Route
2012 Shipping
Written by Magdalena Tomasik   
Monday, 09 July 2012 08:30

(Photo: Getty Images) (Photo: Getty Images) On Tuesday last week, the Russian Duma adopted new regulations with regards to Northern Sea Route.


The law states that the port of Murmansk, Barents and Pechora Seas are not going to be included in the new definition of Northern Sea Route.


New definition adopted by Russian Duma, delineates the passage from the eastern coast of Novaya Zemlya, the Kara Gate and the straits between the mainland and the Vaygach island. From the east, the Northern Sea Route would include the areas of Russian – Alaskan sea border and the latitude of Cape Dezhnev, the easternmost point on Russian territory.


New regulations, which will enter into force in the beginning of 2013, are to include the establishment of Northern Sea Route Administration. The body will be responsible for managing ice – breaking operations and sailing services. What is more it will provide with the radio communication and hydro-graphic information, organize search and rescue operations and prepare preparedness measures on emergency situations.


According to the Russian Ministry of Finance, the NRS project, including new administrative body is an investment of over 700.000 Euros.

The Northern Sea Route is the Russian name for commonly known Northeast Passage. The passage occurs as a great commercial potential both for Russians, who directly benefit from cutting down the shipping distance between Europe and East Asia and Europeans, whose nurtured vision of the revolution in sea trade has never completely died out.


With respect to new regulations created by Russian Duma, the Arctic Portal will provide with new maps to reflect the new definition of Northern Sea Route. Please, be referred to Interactive Mapping System to view interactive data maps and to the Shipping Library to access current maps ´images.





China´s 5th Arctic Expedition heads to Iceland
Shipping News
Wednesday, 04 July 2012 12:40

The estimated route of the Snow Dragon. Map by Arctic Portal. The estimated route of the Snow Dragon. Map by Arctic Portal.China´s fifth Arctic expedition is en route to the Arctic. The Snow Dragon, Xuelong, left Qingdao in China on the 2nd of July.

It will sail through the Northern Sea rout, carrying out various ressearch objectives in four fields. The fields are Physical Oceanography and Sea Ice, Marine Geology research, Chemistry and Atmospheric Chemistry and Biology and ecolosystem research.

Arctic Portal is a cooperative partner in the project and a website about the expedition has opened at

The Snow Dragon’s expedition to Iceland is an important token of the two countries Arctic research collaboration for years to come. Its arrival comes in light of the parties increased cooperation in Arctic affairs during recent years, which recently saw a framework agreement signed by the two governments. The Snow Dragon’s arrival in Iceland will further strengthen these ties and make way for mutually beneficial research for both sides.

During its stay in Iceland the public will have an opportunity visit the Snow Dragon.

This will be the first time that a Chinese Arctic expedition will sail through the Northern Sea Route.

It is estimated that the 15.000km voyage will land in Reykjavík in the middle of August, before visiting Akureyri and then heading back to China.

Please visit for more information.

The EU outlines its policy for the Arctic
Other News
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 15:44

The Arctic (Photo: GettyImages)The European Commission and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy have today outlined the way forward for the EU's constructive engagement in the Arctic.

A press release reads that "the Arctic region is a vital component of the Earth's environment. Climate change in the Arctic is advancing dramatically, with change visible on a yearly basis, impacting significantly on its ecosystem and the livelihood of its inhabitants. At the same time, rapidly retreating sea ice alongside technological progress are opening up new economic opportunities in the region such as shipping, mining, energy extraction and fishing. While beneficial for the global economy, these activities also call for a prudent and sustainable approach: further repercussions for the fragile Arctic can be expected if top environmental standards are not met."

Summarised in three words, ''knowledge, responsibility, engagement'', the strategy adopted today contains a set of tangible actions that contribute to research and sustainable development in the region and promote environmentally friendly technologies that could be used for sustainable shipping and mining. It also underlines the EU's activities in the Arctic since 2008. For example, the EU has made a contribution of 20 million EUR per year in Arctic research over the last decade and has invested more than 1.14 billion EUR in the sustainable development of the region since 2007.

Catherine Ashton, the EU's High Representative and Vice-President of the Commission stated: "With the actions presented today, we want to show the world that the EU is serious about its commitments towards the Arctic region. Developments in the Arctic add further urgency to our work to combat global climate change, and are of increasing strategic, economic and environmental importance to the European Union. The EU wants to make a positive contribution to the cooperation between the Arctic states and take into account the needs of indigenous and local communities inhabiting Arctic areas''.

Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki said: "The Arctic is rapidly going through important changes, allowing for new economic activity in a fragile part of the world. There are environmental challenges and opportunities that require global attention and the EU can help substantially: in research, funding, combating global warming and developing greener technologies. This is what the EU's Integrated Maritime Policy is all about, to contribute to common solutions for the sustainable management of the seas."

The Communication contains a series of measures to support the effective stewardship of the Arctic. They include:

 - Support of Arctic research under the Commission's proposed 80 billion EUR Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (see IP/11/1475);

- Contribution to search and rescue in the Arctic through the launch of the next-generation observation satellites (see IP/11/1477);

- Stepping up of actions to combat climate change;

- Use of EU's funding opportunities to maximise sustainable development in the Arctic for the benefit of local and indigenous communities;

- Promotion and development of environmentally friendly technologies that could be used by extractive industries in the Arctic;

- Enhancing of bilateral dialogue on Arctic issues with Canada, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation and the United States, including by applying for permanent observer status in the Arctic Council;

- Stepping up of efforts to hold regular dialogue with representatives of indigenous peoples organisations on EU policies and programmes;


In total, the Communication contains 28 action points, the highlights are:

- Climate change: the EU, on track to meet its Kyoto target, has incorporated its 20% greenhouse gas reduction commitment into law and remains committed to the long-term target of 80-95% reduction of its emissions by 2050.

- Sustainable development: for the 2007 – 2013 financial period, the EU provides over €1.14 billion to develop the economic, social and environmental potential of the Arctic regions of the EU and neighbouring areas.

- Research: The EU has made a leading contribution on Arctic research over the last ten years, contributing around 200 million EUR of EU funds to international research activities in the Arctic.

The European Parliament and the EU Member States are now invited to submit their views on the proposed actions. The Communication also kick-starts a dialogue and consultation process with the Arctic countries, indigenous peoples and other interested parties to further refine the EU's policy towards the Arctic.

South-Atlantic not declared a whale sanctuary
Other News
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:23

Whale watching in South America is becoming an important industry (Photo: GettyImages)Whale watching in South America is becoming an important industry (Photo: GettyImages)A proposal to declare a whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic Ocean has been declined at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) annual meeting.

The meeting takes place in Panama and Latin American countries argued that declaring a sanctuary would help whale conservation and whale-watching.

The South Atlantic Ocean, spanning a vast area, extends from South America's East Coast to Africa's West Coast. The Buenos Aires Group, a coalition of 14 pro whale countries, had hoped to add the Ocean to two sanctuaries already approved by the IWC, the Indian Ocean Sanctuary and the Southern Whale Sanctuary.

A total of 33 nations supported the petition and 21 were against it, but 75% of the votes are needed for new petitions to take place. Observers noted that the vote was orderly and without rancour, in marked contrast with previous years which saw representatives walk out of the meeting to stop the meeting from being legal.

Marcos Pinta Gama, Brazil's commissioner to the IWC, said he was disappointed by the result, but pleased that the vote had happened.

"We believe that the sanctuary is a very important initiative in order to ensure the protection of whales within the whole South Atlantic, to promote the non-lethal use of cetaceans and and benign research that's important for conserving whales," he told BBC News.

Whale-watching and ecotourism, he said, were becoming important industries for coastal communities.

"In many countries including Brazil, those activities are bringing in financial resources to local communities, it's really expanding, and we think the sanctuary would very much strengthen this kind of activity in the region."

The legalities of Whaling today:

Objection: A country formally objects to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium, declaring itself exempt. Example: Norway and Iceland

Scientific: A nation issues unilateral "scientific permits"; any IWC member can do this. Example: Japan

Indigenous (aka Aboriginal subsistence): IWC grants permits to indigenous groups for subsistence food. Example: Greenland

Greenland controversially seeks whaling increase
Other News
Monday, 02 July 2012 09:58

The IWC will meet this month for its annual meeting (Photo: GettyImages)The IWC will meet this month for its annual meeting (Photo: GettyImages)Greenland seeks more quotas for whale hunting in the next five-yearly quotas. An agreement with the International Whaling Commission (IWC) will be discussed soon.

The 64th Annual Meeting of the International Whaling Commission and the associated meetings of its Scientific Committee and other sub-groups will take place in Panama City, Panama from 11 June – 6 July 2012.

The annual IWC meeting will open with a discussion on whaling by indigenous people in the Arctic. The five-yearly quotas are up for renewal.

Voting on several issues will be discussed, amongst them is to declare the South Atlantic a whale sanctuary and to ask the UN to take charge of whale conservation.

For a number of countries, like the USA, renewing quotas for their indigenous peoples under Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling (ASW) rules is the top priority, according to the BBC.

"We distinguish between commercial whaling, which we oppose, and ASW which we strongly support," said Doug DeMaster, acting US commissioner to the IWC. "The cultural needs, the recognized tradition - we support the aboriginal use of large whales if they meet a 'needs' criteria that's established by the IWC, and if the removal levels are considered sustainable by the scientific committee of the IWC."

Anti-whaling groups have questioned Greenland's needs for whaling under ASW, saying that Greenland sold some of their meet commercially. A study in Greenland found whaling meat on the menu in many restaurants and also for sale in supermarkets.


The criticism states that whaling is not ment for commercial sale, one can give it away in your home but not sell it to tourists.

At this year's IWC meeting, the Danish government - which represents Greenland - is asking for an increased quota for fin and humpback whales on the basis that the indigenous peoples' need is not being met.


The meeting in Panama is likely to be lively, but governments have promised not to repead walkouts as happened in the last meeting.

The legalities of Whaling today:

Objection: A country formally objects to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium, declaring itself exempt. Example: Norway and Iceland

Scientific: A nation issues unilateral "scientific permits"; any IWC member can do this. Example: Japan

Indigenous (aka Aboriginal subsistence): IWC grants permits to indigenous groups for subsistence food. Example: Greenland




See Also:

Whaling in the Arctic

Arctic Portal Fishing Portlet





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