The focus of the AMSA is marine safety and marine environmental protection, in accordance with the Arctic Council’s mandates of environmental protection and sustainable development. Based on the findings of the AMSA, recommendations were developed to provide a guide for future action by the Arctic Council, Arctic states and others. The AMSA recommendations are presented in three broad themes that are fundamental to understanding the AMSA:
1. Enhancing Arctic Marine Safety
One of the key issues that are prominent in Arctic shipping is the question if there is a need to develop mandatory regulations for ships operating in Arctic Ice-covered waters. Voluntary guidelines that touch upon the subject from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) are however available.
The AMSA report comes to the conclusion that such regulation drawn up in accordance to international customary law as reflected in United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) would be an effective way to enhance marine safety and environmental protection in Arctic waters. Such guidelines would contribute to ensure the safety of seafarers in these challenging surroundings.
Support infrastructure in the Arctic region is lacking to ensure safety and environmental protection.
Ice navigation training, navigational charts, communications systems, port services which are equipped to deal with ship generated waste, timely ice information and access to icebreakers when needed, are the most urgent issues in that field.
Arctic Marine Traffic Systems also need to be improved with increased monitoring and tracking of marine activity.
Preparedness and response plans because of oil spills and environmental disasters needs to be significantly strengthened in addition to search and rescue of seafarers.
3. Protection of the environment and Arctic People
Protecting Arctic People and the environment is one of the key issues identified in AMSA.
It includes gathering information on indigenous marine use to assess the impacts from Arctic shipping activities and engage Arctic communities to ensure that mechanisms are in place enabling these communities to communicate and coordinate with the shipping industry.
Cultural and ecological areas of great importance need to be protected of invasive species, monitoring and assessing impacts on marine mammals need to be conducted and reduction of air emission has to be a priority.