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Tore Henriksen

This chapter investigates new international legislation aimed at protecting the fragile polar environment. Climate change and the melting of the sea ice have brought international attention to the Arctic Ocean. The climate change in Arctic has both global and regional environmental implications. Much of the attention has been on the opportunities for new and extended uses of previously inaccessible marine areas. Particularly the prospect of reducing sailing distance between Europe to Asia by the use of the Arctic shipping routes has raised considerable interest. However, shipping through these waters are challenging of several reasons including legal, unavailability of infrastructure, climate and ice conditions. The negotiations of the Polar Code in the IMO come as a recognition of a need of additional and mandatory regulations of shipping in these waters for safety and environmental protection purposes. In this chapter, the safety and pollution prevention regulations of the Polar Code are investigated in order to assess whether the challenges have been addressed. The Arctic coastal States have a particular interest in ensuring safe and environmentally friendly shipping in their waters. The chapter investigates their legislation and whether it may assist in implementing the Polar Code regulations. Of particular interest is the legislation of Canada and Russia, the two major Arctic coastal States. Their legislation of foreign flagged vessels is based on the Arctic exception of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Article 234). The entry into force of the Polar Code in 2017 raises questions on the relationship between the Polar Code and national legislation.