Call to ban heavy fuel oil in the Arctic

A coalition of NGOs has called on the countries in the Arctic Council to ban heavy bunker oil in the region. In a letter sent earlier this week on behalf of 15 NGOs, the grouping stated: “The risks to the marine environment, the climate, and public health are too great to permit the continued use of [heavy fuel oil] in Arctic shipping.”

As it stands, there is a recommendation in the IMO’s Polar Code to apply the the ban on a voluntary basis, whereas a total ban has been in place in the Antarctic since 2010.

“Coupled with its viscosity and tendencies to sink and stick to anything it comes into contact with, cleanup effort becomes insurmountable,” the letter says.

“The problem is more acute in Arctic waters because of lower species diversity as well as reduced growth and reproduction rates for its biota. More damage can occur, more quickly and with longer lasting effects than in other climates.”

The NGOs also warned of the effect the fuel has on air quality.

Five years ago, the European Parliament demanded a ban on heavy fuel oil in the Arctic.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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