Mr. Speaker, I bow to the goodwill of the other members of the House to continue my address.
When we looked at the problems that we had in terms of the major and most significant threats from ships in the Arctic, we did not have answers, at lease no answers that we could identify which suggested that we were on top of this issue.
How much is the Arctic being used right now? The marine shipping assessment report says that there are approximately 6,000 individual vessels making multiple voyages in the Arctic regions and that approximately half of them are on the great circle route in the north Pacific that crosses the Aleutian Islands. Approximately 1,600 of these vessels are fishing vessels.
Nearly all the movement in the Arctic is destinational, conducted for community resupply, marine tourism and moving natural resources out of the Arctic. There is no trans-shipping yet that occurs in the Arctic regions. That is something that probably would more likely occur once the future ice cover has moved back and we have a clear understanding of the intermittency of the pack ice in the area.
Significant increases in cruise ships, the majority of them not built for Arctic waters, have been observed in summer season around Greenland within the past decade, and certainly those ships have been identified as an area of potential concern.
What is the governance? When we are talking about the need to protect the Arctic, we are talking about the need to protect from marine vessels. We are not talking about much else when we talk about how we will deal with marine protection in the future. How do we deal with the governance of Arctic shipping?
The law of the sea is reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It provides the fundamental framework for the governance of Arctic marine navigation. The International Marine Organization is a competent UN agency with responsibilities related to the global maritime industry. It has been very active in developing guidelines for ships operating in Arctic ice-covered waters. I think that is one of the issues that we must come to grips with here. Guidelines are not good enough.
What we need for Arctic shipping to protect the Arctic is international regulation that says that ships operating in the Arctic must meet minimum conditions for Arctic waters. The International Association of Classification Societies has developed non-mandatory unified requirements for its members that addresses the issues around ship construction, which are defined again in the guidelines.
We need to move forward from that point, which is where Canada can work very effectively at the international level and potentially within our own waters to ensure that we have that quality of ships working in the Arctic.
There are no uniform international standards for ice navigators. Quite clearly, when entering into Arctic waters, one needs to have proper navigation, a pilotage system that can deliver those ships safely through very difficult waters. Even within the Northwest Passage, the charting that has been done there is very minimal.
We have a new marine terrain opening up and that marine terrain has to be well protected.