Introduction to the New Maritime Arctic

  • Lawson W. BrighamEmail author
  • Lawrence P. Hildebrand
Part of the WMU Studies in Maritime Affairs book series (WMUSTUD, volume 7)


Fundamental changes continue to reshape the maritime Arctic. Globalization (the linkage of Arctic natural resources to global markets), profound climate change, regional and global geopolitics, and challenges to the Arctic’s indigenous people are all drivers of a new era at the top of the world. The Arctic Council’s Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment released in 2009 continues to be a key, policy framework of the Arctic states for protection of Arctic people and the marine environment. An International Maritime Organization (IMO) Polar Code ushered in on 1 January 2017 a new era of governance for commercial ships and passenger vessels sailing in polar waters. Current Arctic marine commercial traffic is dominated by destinational voyages related to natural resource development, particularly along Russia’s Northern Sea Route. New Arctic marine operations and shipping are emerging, but significant challenges remain including: effective implementation and enforcement of the IMO Polar Code; a huge gap in Arctic marine infrastructure (hydrography and charting, communications, emergency response capacity, and more); enhancing the monitoring and surveillance of Arctic waters; the challenge of developing a set of marine protected areas and additional Polar Code measures for the circumpolar region; and, the need for large public and private investments, as well as potential public-private partnerships in the Arctic. Cooperation among the Arctic states, the non-Arctic shipping states, and the global maritime enterprise will be critical to effective protection of Arctic people and the marine environment, and developing sustainable strategies for the region.


Arctic marine traffic Infrastructure Polar Code Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment Arctic Council Marine safety Environmental protection 


  1. AMSA. (2009, April). Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA). Arctic Council, second printing.Google Scholar
  2. Brigham, L. W. (2011). The challenges and security issues of Arctic Marine transport. In J. Kraska (Ed.), Arctic security in an age of climate change. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Brigham, L. W. (2016). The realities and challenges of Russia’s Northern Sea Route. Fletcher Security Review, 3(1), (The Arctic Spotlight, Winter 2016 Issue).Google Scholar
  4. Brigham, L. W. (2017). The changing maritime Arctic and new marine operations. In R. C. Beckman et al. (Eds.), Governance of Arctic shipping (p. 3). Brill.Google Scholar
  5. Headland, R. K. (2017). Transits to the end of the 2017 navigation season of the Northwest passage. Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge University.Google Scholar
  6. IMO. (2016). International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code). Consolidated text of the Polar Code.Google Scholar
  7. PAME. (2013, May 15). Arctic Ocean review final phase 20112-2013 Report. Arctic Council.Google Scholar
  8. Staalesen, A. (2017, December 8). New era starts on the Northern Sea Route. The Independent Barents Observer.Google Scholar
  9. World Economic Forum. (2014, January 22–25). Demystifying the Arctic. World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Arctic. Davod-Klosters (Switzerland).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Arctic Research CenterUniversity of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA
  2. 2.Ocean Sustainability, Governance and ManagementWorld Maritime UniversityMalmöSweden

Personalised recommendations