March 17, 2022 Press Release

ArCS II International Law Research Program published Briefing Paper Series No.6,“Environmental regulation of Arctic shipping: Recent developments”, now with ISSN and doi

Briefing Paper SeriesArCS II International Law Research Program has published the sixth volume of its “Briefing Paper Series (BPS)”, “Environmental regulation of Arctic shipping: Recent developments”. The purpose of the BPS is to share our results with Arctic stakeholders and the general public and contribute to open discussions on Arctic issues.

The sixth volume of the BPS is a fact sheet describing recent discussions in international forums on environmental regulations to reduce and mitigate the impact of shipping in the Arctic region, focusing on efforts at the Arctic Council and international rule and standard making at the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The Polar Code, adopted by the IMO in 2014-2015, plays a vital role in ensuring sustainable Arctic shipping by establishing international rules and standards. However, there were some environmental issues that the Code did not address. These issues have been the subject of an ongoing discussion after the adoption and entry into force of the Polar Code. This fact sheet highlights the use and carriage of Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO), air pollution, underwater noise, invasive alien species, and wastewater discharge as the main issues on which there have been developments and describes the current state of discussions for each of these issues.

Among the various issues discussed, the fact sheet explains that the MARPOL Convention was amended last year to prohibit the use and carriage of Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) as ship fuel in Arctic waters in light of its severe impact in the event of an oil spill and emission of higher levels of air pollutants when combusted as fuel. The fact sheet also describes a recommendation adopted by the IMO in 2021 to encourage the voluntary use of cleaner fuels in and near the Arctic to reduce emissions of black carbon, which can accelerate the melting of ice. The fact sheet also discusses the current status of discussions and ongoing efforts at the IMO and the Arctic Council on air pollution, underwater noise, invasive alien species, and emissions from ships. It also provides information on relevant guidelines, reports, and policy documents on these issues.

This is the second English-written BPS since the first volume on Arctic marine plastic pollution. Since then, ArCS II International Law Beirfing Paper Series have addressed a Policy Brief on Japanese engagements during the first phase of ArCS project (2015-2020) (No.3); a Fact Sheet comparing the Arctic policies of Japan, China and Republic of Korea (No.4), and a Fact Sheet on Taiwan’s recent engagement with the Arctic (No.5), all written in Japanese.

ArCS II International Law Briefing Paper Series is now registered as ISSN: 2436-8794, and each document with its own doi. The Series is more acceable and with greater academic impacts.



is Professor of International Law at the Arctic Environment Research Center, National Institute of Polar Research and School of Law, Tohoku University. He is the Research Director for the ArCS II program, Strategic Goal 4 (Legal/Policy Response and Research Implementation for a Sustainable Arctic).

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