Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 392

392 Arctic Yearbook 2015 of ships currently operate in the Arctic, or their impact, is not well known. Several national delegations at IMO have asked for a paper giving information on the number of “non-SOLAS” ships operating in polar waters and reports of accidents and incidents, including those requiring search and rescue operations. WWF, as part of a coalition of NGOs, believes there is still an opportunity to strengthen the Polar Code by addressing significant omissions including addressing non-ice strengthened vessels, smaller cargo and fishing vessels, and widening the scope of the environmental provisions. There are a number of omissions that affect the environmental impact from shipping in the north, including better oil and chemical spill preparedness and response, sewage and grey water discharge, and specific vessel routing measures. Here, we will focus on just three: heavy fuel oils; black carbon emissions; and the introduction of alien species through ballast and biofouling. The use and carriage of Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) presents one of the biggest risks to the Arctic marine environment. The Arctic Ocean Assessment identified the release of oil through spills or operational/illegal discharges as the most significant threat from ships in the Arctic. HFO is a very thick, viscous oil – what is left over when you’ve skimmed off the higher grade fuels. It accounts for three-quarters of the fuel used in Arctic shipping. The Arctic environment is particularly vulnerable to both operational and accidental spills of this kind of oil. It degrades slowly under Arctic conditions, Getting Arctic Shipping Back on Course