Inuit Circumpolar Council welcomes new shipping regulations in the Arctic

New shipping regulations would reduce emissions and black carbon

A ship comes in at Frobisher Bay, Iqaluit. Photo: Danielle Paradis

The international body that regulates shipping is approving new environmental protections for the Canadian Arctic.

The International Maritime Organization says it will tighten restrictions around fuels that vessels in those waters can use.

The changes would reduce emissions of pollutants as well as black carbon, a fine soot that darkens sea ice and speeds up thawing.

The proposal, made by the Canadian government, has been approved and is to be adopted at the group’s next meeting.

The Inuit Circumpolar Council, or ICC, which represents Inuit people around the Arctic, said it welcomes the announcement.

“All other ocean areas in Canada below 60 degrees have been protected by an Emission Control Area since 2013. We welcome this initiative by Canada to provide equal protections for our Inuit homeland”, said Lisa Qiluqqi Koperqualuk, ICC Vice Chair and at the helm of the ICC delegation at the IMO.

“Black Carbon emissions from shipping, in the IMO-defined Arctic waters alone, have doubled between 2015 to 2021. Canada should be complimented for their efforts to reverse course on this trend and begin to bring emissions down by establishing an ECA in the Canadian Arctic.”

Polar bears
Polar Bears near Resolute Bay along the Northwest Passage. Photo: Danielle Paradis/APTN

According to a study in the Journal, Toxics, these emissions cause cumulative impacts over time, which have been linked to negative health outcomes including respiratory and heart diseases, cancer, and birth defects.

The ICC also linked black carbon to climate change.

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“It also contributes significantly to local warming and accelerates ice and snow melt, which in turn exacerbates climate change and contributes to habitat and biodiversity loss. This directly impacts Inuit food security and cultural sustainability,” said the ICC press release.

Canadian government documents suggest complying with the new rules could raise costs for northern families by up to about $40 a year.

The decision comes from the 81st session of the Marine Environment protection Committee (MEPC) at the International Maritime Organization in London, England where Inuit are participating in the discussion.

Other items on the agenda included tackling Greenhouse Gas emissions, and approving an underwater radiated noise reduction Action Plan.

With files from the Canadian Press

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