ABSTRACT

Significant research on Arctic sea ice trends and the potential for resource development have been well documented and illustrated as drivers for changes to Arctic shipping traffic patterns. There is a strong awareness of the potential risks to the environment such as an oil spill in ice as well as impacts on traditional human activity. Similarly, there is awareness that there will be a demand for increased navigation services such as aids to navigation, charting and emergency response capacity. To date, the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA) project has provided a snapshot of Arctic shipping traffic patterns and activity for the year 2004 and suggests a further research opportunity exists to conduct a trend analysis of shipping activity. The AMSA report suggests that "As marine activity continues to expand in the Arctic, statistical trends indicate that the potential risk of vessel mishaps and marine pollution incidents also increases" (Arctic Council, 2009). However, this is not necessarily the case where risks are managed. Accident trends in the Canadian Arctic suggest that safety management, vessel design and navigation experience have had positive impacts and one must look more closely at specific areas of operation, vessel types and activity to identify opportunities to improve risk management including both prevention and response. So the question remains "What can we learn from recent trends in vessel traffic and accident rates to better understand potential navigation impacts in the future?" Using the AMSA Shipping Database (Arctic Council, 2009) and a spatial trend analysis of Canadian Arctic shipping traffic and vessel accident rates covering the period 1987 to 2008, this paper will report on preliminary findings, show where accident rates are increasing and decreasing, provide traffic trends for each Shipping Safety Control Zone, help to dispel a few myths, and possibly confirm other rumours.

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