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Research Report

Utilising Local Capacities: Maritime Emergency Response across the Arctic

Andreas Østhagen
Copyright Date: Feb. 1, 2017
Pages: 68
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Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 1-4)

    Maritime activity in the Arctic is changing. Arctic coastal states are forced to provide presence and capabilities to deal with emergency incidents in Arctic waters. Debates concerning Arctic emergency response have largely been dominated by demands for investment in vessels and infrastructure. Sometimes the mere acquisition of a new icebreaker seems to be presented as the solution to all Arctic capacity problems. There are, however, numerous other measures that can be taken to enhance general response capacity.² When the oil tanker MV Prestige split in half off the coast of Portugal and Spain and released heavy oil into the Atlantic...

  2. (pp. 5-13)

    This report is concerned with the northern parts of the North Atlantic Arctic, defined as Iceland, Greenland, Norway (Svalbard) and Canada (Nunavut). The Faroe Islands and the Canadian provinces of Newfoundland & Labrador and Quebec are excluded, given their relative integration with emergency response systems further south in Europe and Canada, respectively. Nunavik (northern Quebec) proves an interesting contrast to Nunavut, although it is not the primary focus of the report. Russia, Alaska, and the eastern Arctic territories of Canada (Northwest Territories and the Yukon) are also excluded, as this report is concerned with Arctic territories in relative proximity to each...

  3. (pp. 14-30)

    As pointed out in the introduction, the focus in this report is on maritime emergency response, including both SAR and environmental protection. To what extent are the various Arctic regions able to respond to emergency incidents at sea? And to what extent are local resources included and utilised in maritime emergency response? As with climatic conditions and economic activity, the local resources available in Arctic regions vary greatly. There is a natural correlation, as high economic activity entails the presence of greater emergency response capacity. At the same time, lessons can be learned from examining how the various regions have...

  4. (pp. 31-39)

    The previous sections provided a detailed review of the four Arctic regions’ various schemes and set-ups for handling potential incidents at sea. There are limitations on how effective local capacity building can be when dealing with large-scale maritime incidents. In such instances, response is dependent on the interplay between the various levels of administration in the given Arctic region. This interplay is briefly outlined in the following section, which contributes to our examination of how the efforts examined above can be further improved.

    As outlined in subsection 3.1., public resources provided by federal or national governments are present to varying...

  5. (pp. 40-42)

    All activities entail inherent risks. The question is, however, what level of risk society deems acceptable and, subsequently, how different actors can mitigate risk. In the Arctic, where maritime activities indisputably have higher risk levels than activities further south, this question is key. The distances in the Arctic and variations in region-specific challenges leave the bulk of the solutions to be found at the national and local levels. The Arctic states and their respective public institutions are, thus, under mounting pressure.

    This report has laid out (1) how the maritime situation is changing, (2) how states are working to manage...