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The North West Passage Navigating the Arctic Teacher information and role play resources.

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Presentation on theme: "The North West Passage Navigating the Arctic Teacher information and role play resources."— Presentation transcript:

1 The North West Passage Navigating the Arctic Teacher information and role play resources

2 The Northern Passages of the Arctic Shipping Business Geopolitics

3 On September 14 th 2009, two German container ships crossed the exit point of the Russian North East Passage at Novaya Zemlya. This voyage from the Pacific Ocean had been considered impossible for vessels of this size until a few years ago. The Beluga Shipping Company, who owns the two ships, had been allowed to return home from South Korea having been approved by the Defence Ministry and Federal Security Service in Moscow. The Arctic shipping passage to the north of Russia, as well as the North West Passage above Canada are increasingly accessible for large scale vessels which belong to commercial shipping companies. With the polar ice caps melting at an increasing rate each year, scientists now estimate that 1300 sq. kilometres have been lost since 1960. The passages are opening up, allowing an increase in human activity in the Arctic. Traditionally, trade vessels were sent between Asia and Europe, either through the Suez canal in Egypt (if small enough) or around the Cape Horn of South America. With seasonal ice-free passages developing over Siberia and Greenland, even the largest of ships can begin to by-pass Cape Horn, cutting off thousands of miles. A journey from South Korea to the Netherlands is 11 000 nautical miles (12,658 miles). However, using the North East Passage, approximately 3000 nautical miles (3,452 miles) and 10 days of travel can be saved. The reduction in fuel costs for shipping companies if each journey could be contained within the northern hemisphere would be significant. In addition, this shortening of travel time for shipping could also reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions. Cargo ships, in 2007, were responsible for 3% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Potentially, this figure could be reduced by up to half, with the increased usage of the North East and North West Passages. However, there are additional complexities because the increased emissions of black carbon in Arctic Regions from shipping could, in theory, increase the rate of melting of the polar ice caps. 1879- Nils Nordenskjold of Sweden completed the first successful voyage through the North East Passage. (assisted by ice- breakers). In 2002- Eric Brossier, a French sailor, becomes the first man to sail the North East Passage in a sailing boat. In the North West Passage however, many people are less optimistic than the shipping industry. The Canadian Arctic Archipelago which forms part of the passage could be described as a drain-trap for ship-wrecking multi year ice. Stephen Howell a climatologist notes. "We call it a 'MYI invasion' and that's going to be the threat as we transition to an ice-free summertime Arctic. The first-year ice, that's sort of like Swiss cheese and you can just plow through it," he says. This ice freezes over a winter and is seldom thicker than three feet (one meter). Often, first-year ice melts the summer after it's frozen, but if it doesn't, it becomes thicker the following winter and becomes multiyear ice. "The multiyear ice isn't like Swiss cheese; it's solid and trouble" for ships that collide with it. "Even in 2040, when there might be no more summer ice in the Arctic, the archipelago could still be clogged with ice.

4 ShippingPast In the past shipping in the Arctic was part of either whaling, fishing, limited trading, geographic exploration or migration, with very little regulation or maritime rules. Outside Inuit societies, the only rules were those who claimed the land for their King and Country. The rules of shipping were essentially stay on your boat unless it is trapped by ice completely, it is your safest and best chance for survival amongst the ice. Present The opening up of the summer North West Passage (and reduction of tension between East and West as a result of the end of the Cold War) has led to discussions over who owns the rights to access to the North West Passage. Canada has claimed the Archipelago region as Canadian Internal Waters. This has to potential to allow Canada to regulate any and all foreign nautical activity. However the USA and EU wished to continue using it as a transit route. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) ratifies a 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone which gives the sovereign nation the sole right to all resources within that territory. Future Arctic countries may seek to expand their Exclusive Economic Zones to gain territorial rights of what are currently international waters. This may be to gain access to minerals, oil and gas reserves, fishing rights and potentially fresh water from melting ice. As a result of climate change, the reduction in sea ice cover all year round could provide new trade routes between Europe, Asia, North America and Russia. There is also the potential to develop new tourist opportunities in the Arctic. Links http://en.wikip United_Nation s_Convention_ on_the_Law_o f_the_Sea http://en.wikip Northwest_Pas sage Do you agree that the Shipping rules agreed by the UNCLOS are effective? What problems could arise? What changes would you make?

5 Since the 16 th century, business owners and traders have dreamed of the creation of a north eastern passage linking the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. Potentially lucrative new trade routes are now appearing between Europe and Asia. The 2009 Beluga Company project has enabled six trade contracts between Germany and northern Siberia in Russia. Having already transported 12 000 tonne vessels through the North East Passage, Beluga hope to increase their fleet, with ships able to carry twice this load. The opening of the Northeast Passage to commercial shipping may lead to an Arctic boom for Siberia as the region turns into an important transit location. Beluga estimated that it saved $300,000 (£180,000) per ship in reduced fuel consumption and time at sea (compared to travelling via the Suez canal), a figure that it expects to double with the larger vessels. Geological surveys also indicate that the Arctic contains huge reserves of oil and natural gas. The oil and gas reserves in the wider Arctic region could be worth as much as $7tn. Many oil companies are keen to see the Greenland government granting new exploration licences, which could bring significant economic investment to this country. According to a 2009 US Geological survey, there could be 90bn barrels of oil (a third of the size of Saudi Arabia's reserves) and 5otn cubic metres of gas in the wider Arctic region. While the gas discovery has centred attention on hydrocarbons, there is also a parallel initiative to uncover metal ore deposits, precious stones (such as diamonds and rubies) and rare earth products. The Greenland government is also considering whether to allow the mining of uranium. With unemployment in some towns reaching 15% these opportunities provide a significant potential to bring new economic investment into Greenland.

6 Business Historically, the Arctic Ocean became freer from its winter seas ice from March onwards. This allows British and other vessels to hunt for whale blubber and animal fur (mink, elk, beaver, bear, artic fox). Trade also took place in northern Canada between Canadian settlers and communities such as the Nunavut Inuit. Today, a longer summer period means less sea ice cover presenting the opportunity for shipping to use this route. 30 years ago, less than 20 ships a season would venture through this route and today over was rock solid, now over 200 travelled through this route. In addition, there have been tourist expeditions into the Canadian Archipelago, mineral and carbons exploration, seabed exploration and increased fishing as a result of the longer summer seasons. In future, if climate change persists in its current direction, the North West Passage could be safe enough to allow the giant cruisers and super tankers safe passage. These vessels can not always travel through the Panama Canal and have to currently travel around South America. Such trends could also open up the opportunity for Canada to develop marine services and deep-water staging ports and escort vessels to help ships pass through more easily. This would provide income for Canada itself and also the local communities. http://www.travelin eb/index.php?optio n=com_k2&view=it em&id=10944:not- again-ii-fuel- tanker-runs- aground-in- northwest- passage&Itemid=1 * Use the information on this link to explore the potential benefits and hazards of using the North West Passage.

7 International disputes have been the result of an opening Arctic Ocean. There are five Arctic nations; Russia, Denmark, USA, Canada and Norway. They all hold different political stances on the ownership of the Arctic. Canada says it has full rights over those parts of the North West Passage that pass through its territory and that it can bar transit there. However, the EU and principally USA, claim the passage to be an international strait that any vessel can use. If Canada were given rights over these waters, the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, which make up their internal waters, they would be able to regulate the environment, smuggling, shipping and whaling. In 1988 the Arctic Cooperation was agreed between USA and Canada. On April 9 th 2006, Canada declared that the North West Passage would now be referred to as the Canadian Internal Waters. Then on July 9 2007, Prime Minister Harper announced the establishment of a deep-water port in the far north. Currently the situation in Canada is that any foreign vessel can have free uninhibited passage, as long as they do not divulge in any activity other than travelling steadily and purposefully. Greenland, owned by Denmark is a vulnerable region because of potentially conflicting demand over the maintenance of a wild land and the use of its natural resources and minerals. Russia have the largest Arctic frontier, and similarly to Canada claim rights of the area around the North East Passage. Since the cold war, Russia have performed much research within the Arctic.

8 Geopolitics Present: the diagram shows the current Laws of the Seas over Nation Sovereignty over Maritime space. The EU and US particularly disagree with Canada over the right of passage through the North West Passage. The current agreement is that any foreign vessel can have free uninhibited passage, as long as they do not undertake any activity other than travelling steadily and purposefully. Canada holds any rights to enforcing laws on trade, environmental protection and military activity Future: There is currently no cooperative Arctic treaty although the Arctic Ocean Geopolitics Programme is an effort to provide researched information to help collaboration and international & sustainable management of the Arctic. However, this area has significant potential to raise disputes between countries over access to and control of the Arctic. For example, in 2007, a number of countries expressed concern when a Russian submarine planted a Russian flag on the seabed at the North Pole. BaevRussiaArctic_01.pdf http://www.research- facilitate-arctic-geopolitics.aspx BaevRussiaArctic_01.pdfhttp://www.research- facilitate-arctic-geopolitics.aspx

9 Classroom Activity In 4 or more groups, using the countries below, do some background research and map out a case to present your particular claim over the NWP with historical content and modern opinions. Russia, Canada, Iceland, Denmark, USA, Norway -Arctic Nations.

10 Diplomatic Envoys-Links and Sources Russia: http://le-grand-nord-en- questions.over- arctic-claim-lomonossov- an-american-point-of- view-76226528.htmlhttp://le-grand-nord-en- questions.over- arctic-claim-lomonossov- an-american-point-of- view-76226528.html a good source for all countries Canada: ki/Territorial_claims_in_th e_Arctic -> excellent for all Arctic countries anada/story/2009/02/27/f -arctic-sovereignty.html-> Canadian military presence Denmark: http://www.indexmundi. com/denmark/maritime _claims.html http://www.hydro- /articles/id452- A_UNCLOS__A_Danish_ Approach.html Iceland: http://www.cctech http://www.index /maritime_claims. html Norway: http://www.indexmun me_claims.html og/2011/06/27/norwe gian-grand-strategy- and-the-arctic/ USA: public/documents/LOS_Factshe et.pdf ited_States_non- ratification_of_the_UNCLOS ironment/2009/oct/20/us-shell- drilling-arctic

11 or_files/artic-oil.jpg

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