Rear Admiral Colvin, USCG – “Coast Guard Needs Arctic Resources”

18 10 2010

ABOVE NORTHERN ALASKA — The ice-choked reaches of the northern Arctic Ocean aren’t widely perceived as an international shipping route. But global warming is bringing vast change, and Russia, for one, is making an aggressive push to establish top of the world sea lanes.

This year, a Russian ship carrying up to 90,000 metric tons of gas condensate sailed across the Arctic and through the Bering Strait to the Far East. Last year, a Russian ship went the other way, leaving from South Korea with industrial parts. Russia plans up to eight such trips next year, using oil-type tankers with reinforced hulls to break through the ice.

All of which calls for more U.S. Coast Guard facilities and equipment in the far north to secure U.S. claims and prepare for increased human activity, according to Rear Admiral Christopher C. Colvin [Bio], who is in charge of all Coast Guard operations in Alaska and surrounding waters.

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Report: A Uniform Policy to Regulate Shipping in the Arctic Region

6 10 2010

Sovereign states, international governmental organizations and the maritime industry should help prepare a uniform policy to regulate shipping in the Arctic region and engage with native populations while doing so, according to a report released by the University of Alaska Fairbanks in collaboration with Dartmouth and the University of the Arctic’s Institute for Applied Circumpolar Policy last month.

The report, “Considering a Roadmap Forward: The Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment,” called for a “Polar Code” that would present guidelines to protect the Arctic region from the adverse ecological, social and economic impacts of increased shipping and commercial marine activity. The threats to the Arctic have grown recently because receding ice cover is opening up access to mineral resources in the area, jeopardizing the region’s ecosystem and native populations, according to Kenneth Yalowitz, the director of the Dickey Center for International Understanding. Yalowitz is the co-chairman of the IACP.

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