The Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) in the Arctic, hence Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement, was concluded and implemented internationally under the auspices of the Arctic Council. It aimed for the coordination of the international search and rescue operations.
It also established the areas of SAR responsibility of each state party to the Agreement. The document states that: "the delimitation of search and rescue regions is not related to and shall not prejudice the delimitation of any boundary between States or their sovereignty, sovereign rights or jurisdiction."
It is the first binding Agreement to reflect the Arctic Region´s increasing importance as a result of its growing accessibility which occurs due to the climate change and decreasing level of the Arctic ice cap.
Following the signature of the Agreement, each Arctic Council member state would undertake the necessary national procedures required for its entry into force. Canada was decided to serve as a Depositary of the Agreement.
It will also be organizing the table top exercise among all search and rescue agencies of the AC member states as a first step toward the implementation.
The mission of the Arctic states coast guard, according to the document, is to protect and save living and non – living resources of marine environment.
Search and rescue includes monitoring marine SAR areas for signals of distress, coordinating the response when the marine distress incident occurs and providing strategically located vessels to support the SAR operations.
The marine search and rescue activities in the Arctic include commercial shipping traffic, tour boat operations, cargo traffic as well as significant over – water aircraft traffic.
It is stressed out in the Agreement that all the vessels might be required to respond a SAR incident. The marine vessels might be required to be supported by aircraft and helicopters.
Current development of the Arctic accessibility might lead to the need for enhanced search and rescue capabilities and environmental protection. Earth observation, modern remote sensing technologies, improvement of commercial and local safeguarding activities in the particular regions is now the main objectives for the Arctic states.