Traffic rules for Northern Sea Route

A bill regulating shipping on the increasingly popular Northern Sea Route might be adopted this spring.


Talking at a press conference organized by RIA Novosti this week, a high-ranking representative of the Russian Ministry of Transport said that the new law will regulate interaction between stakeholders and organize issues of communication. “We intend to introduce special shipping regulations for the Northern Sea Route”, Vitaly Klyuev said.

He maintained that the bill might be adopted by the State Duma in the course of spring 2012. A part of the bill is the establishment of a new Northern Sea Route administration.

According to Mr. Klyuev, the Ministry is also starting to upgrade all navigation maps for the route. By year 2015-2016 there will be no more “white spots” on the map, he confirmed at the press conference. He also said that the responsibility for the maps will be handed over from the Ministry of Defence to a non-military structure. The new maps will display depths along the route and consequently improve safety along the route, the ministry official underlined.

According to international law, countries can regulate shipping only based on special environmental requirements, as well as in areas, which are covered by ice for more than six months of the year, RIA Novosti reports. Russia has already restricted foreign vessels’ access to several areas along the route, among them in the Kara Gate, the straits connecting the Barents and Kara Seas.

As previously reported, the number of vessels using the Arctic route as well as cargo volumes, have seen a major increase over the last few years. In 2011, a total of 34 vessel carrying 820,000 tons of goods sailed along the route. In 2012, the goods volumes are expected to almost double.

Read also: First Arctic rescue center to open in August

The shipping distance from Sankt Petersburg to Vladivostok along the Northern Sea Route is about 14000 km, which is almost 50 percent shorter than the alternative route through the Suez Canal.

The administration of the Northern Sea Route is today organized by a unit under the Federal Agency of Sea and River Transport, a part of the Ministry of Transport.