Do you know what is meant by polar code? How will it help protect the environment? Read here to know more.
The Polar Code has been adopted by the International Maritime Organization(IMO) to ensure environmental protection and safe ship operations in polar zones.
The framework also covers safety, environmental protection, construction, equipment, operations, training, and rescue.
It is put into effect by amending international maritime treaties including SOLAS (International Convention for the safety of Life at Sea), MARPOL ( International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships), and the STCW (International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers). The Polar Code entered into force on 1 January 2017.
Certain ships travelling domestically or internationally in Arctic or Antarctic waters are subject to the Polar Code.
What is Polar Code?
The Polar Code is intended to cover the full range of shipping-related matters relevant to navigation in waters surrounding the two poles.
It includes ship design, construction, and equipment; operational and training concerns; search and rescue; and, equally important, the protection of the unique environment and ecosystems of the polar regions.
It also consists of mandatory measures covering safety part (part I-A) and pollution prevention (part II-A) and recommendatory provisions for both (parts I-B and II-B).
The polar code classifies vessels as:
- Category A ship – ships designed for operation in polar waters at least in medium first-year ice, which may include old ice inclusions
- Category B ship – designed for operation in polar waters in at least thin first-year ice, which may include old ice inclusions
- Category C ship – a ship designed to operate in open water or ice conditions less severe than those included in Categories A and B.
Ships need to carry a Polar Water Operational Manual, to provide the Owner, Operator, Master, and crew with sufficient information regarding the ship’s operational capabilities and limitations to support their decision-making process.
The chapters in the Polar Code each set out goals and functional requirements, including those covering ship structure; stability and subdivision; watertight and weathertight integrity; machinery installations; operational safety; fire safety/protection; life-saving appliances and arrangements; safety of navigation; communications; voyage planning; manning and training; prevention of oil pollution; prevention of pollution form from noxious liquid substances from ships; prevention of pollution by sewage from ships; and prevention of pollution by the discharge of garbage from ships.
The safety of ships operating in the harsh, remote, and vulnerable polar areas and the protection of the pristine environments around the two poles have always been a matter of concern for IMO, and many relevant requirements, provisions, and recommendations have been developed over the years.
Trends and forecasts indicate that polar shipping will grow in volume and diversify in nature over the coming years and these challenges need to be met without compromising either the safety of life at sea or the sustainability of the polar environments.
Ships operating in the Arctic and Antarctic environments are exposed to several unique risks. Poor weather conditions and the relative lack of good charts, communication systems, and other navigational aids pose challenges for mariners. The remoteness of the areas makes rescue or clean-up operations difficult and costly. Cold temperatures may reduce the effectiveness of numerous components of the ship, ranging from deck machinery and emergency equipment to sea suctions. When ice is present, it can impose additional loads on the hull, propulsion system, and appendages.
The International code of safety for ships operating in polar waters (Polar Code) covers the full range of design, construction, equipment, operational, training, search and rescue, and environmental protection matters relevant to ships operating in the inhospitable waters surrounding the two poles.
How Polar Code Protects Environment:
- Prohibited the discharge of oil or oily mixtures from any ship into the sea.
- Double hull and double bottom required for all oil tankers
- Heavy fuel oil is banned in the Antarctic region
- Using non-toxic-biodegradable lubricants or a water-based system of lubricated components outside the underwater hull
- Measures to be taken to minimize the risk of invasive aquatic species through ships
- No discharge of sewage in polar waters
- Discharge is permitted if the ship has an approved sewage treatment plant, and discharges treated sewage as far as practicable from the nearest land, any fast ice, ice shelf, or areas of specified ice concentration
- Sewage not comminuted or disinfected can be discharged at a distance of more than 12nm from any ice shelf or fast ice
- Comminuted and disinfected sewage can be discharged more than 3nm from any ice shelf or fast ice
- All disposal of plastics prohibited
- Discharge of food wastes onto the ice is prohibited
- Discharge of animal carcasses is prohibited
- Cargo residues, cleaning agents, or additives in hold washing water may only be discharged if: they are not harmful to the marine environment
- Discharge of noxious liquid substances (NLS) or mixtures containing NLS is prohibited in polar waters
Many business organizations and environmental organizations criticized the 2014 polar code final draft as being “too weak” and “too diluted”.The polar code ignores numerous environmental and structural problems and does not cover the whole class of vessels. Fishing boats with less than 500 GT are exempt from the requirements of the code. The code makes no mention of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
For more information: Indias Arctic Policy
Article written by Aryadevi
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