Anchors aweigh on Arctic shipping

By Jessica Fisher, Manager of Strategic Partnerships, WWF-Canada
While many of us are not really aware of it, shipping is a hugely important part of our economy and lifestyle: some 90% of the products we use are shipped by sea.
This fact made me all the more interested in learning about the industry at this week’s Arctic shipping conference in Montreal.
Arctic shipping is an increasingly important topic.  Melting Arctic sea ice – caused by rapid climate change – is opening up passageways for greater ship traffic, presenting an opportunity for increased economic development. This is also a challenge, however, due to the risk of environmental impacts such as air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, contamination from oil or bilge water and noise, all of which affect communities, wildlife, and ecosystems.

© Fednav 2012

Recognizing that ship traffic in the Arctic is expected to increase in the coming years, WWF-Canada released a report this morning at the Arctic shipping conference entitled “Benchmarking of Best Practices for Arctic Shipping”. This is part of an effort by WWF to define what leadership in Arctic shipping looks like by establishing a roster of ‘best practices’ and encouraging their uptake by industry, governments, communities and other stakeholders. We invite feedback on the report at [email protected].

© WWF-Canada

This report is the first step in WWF’s collaboration with leading Arctic shipping company Fednav Ltd., which WWF hopes will lead to further action in defining, showcasing and influencing peers and regulators to adopt leading environmental practices. We are also working with Fednav to articulate our shared vision for sustainable development in the Arctic.
We know that Arctic shipping and development is going to grow, and we want to make sure it is managed responsibly.  By working with companies like Fednav, we hope to give northern decision-makers the resources they need to put the people and ecosystems at the heart of their choices.