Drifting Barge Brings Arctic Council Opportunity | WWF

Drifting Barge Brings Arctic Council Opportunity

Posted on 08 April 2015    
A barge trapped in Arctic ice drifted from Canada through Alaskan waters, nearing the Russian coast in spring 2015.
© United States Coast Guard
As an abandoned, fuel-laden barge crosses icy Arctic borders, WWF is calling on the Arctic Council to organize an international response.

The barge, owned by Northern Transportation Company Ltd., went adrift last fall on its way to Tuktoyaktuk, Canada. After crossing through American waters, the ship now lies off Russia's northeast coast.

In a letter to the Arctic Council on April 8, 2015, WWF urged the Arctic Council to coordinate information exchange between countries regarding the barge, and to help the Russian Federation develop a recovery plan and rescue operation. The Arctic Council's mandate includes helping Arctic countries coordinate action on the environment and sustainable development.

While the vessel is said to hold only 3,500 litres of diesel fuel, its salvage and the prevention of fuel spillage would be symbolic of the Councils willingness and capacity to coordinate action to prevent marine oil pollution. "This incident provides the Arctic Council with a very real and concrete opportunity to demonstrate its value", says WWFs Alexander Shestakov. "This ship's cross-border journey is a clear reminder that circumpolar cooperation is critical to preventing Arctic marine pollution."

While this may not technically be a search and rescue situation, the Arctic states committed to respond to similar situations through a 2011 agreement on search and rescue, negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council.
A barge trapped in Arctic ice drifted from Canada through Alaskan waters, nearing the Russian coast in spring 2015.
© United States Coast Guard Enlarge

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