In response to increased Arctic shipping traffic, the United States and Russian Federation have proposed a system of two-way routes for vessels to follow in the Bering Strait and Bering Sea.
Located in U.S. and Russian Federation territorial waters off the coasts of Alaska and the Chukotskiy Peninsula, the routes are being recommended to help ships avoid the numerous shoals, reefs and islands outside the routes. According to the proposed rule, protecting the environment was a key factor, “The recent developments of economic activity in the Arctic will lead to an increased impact on the natural environment of the Arctic region. At the same time, potentially increased commercial shipping in the Arctic waters may represent a significant risk of contamination of the sensitive marine environment. Therefore, the establishment of new recommendatory two-way routes aims to reduce the potential negative impact on the environment of the Arctic and the risks of environmental accidents and disasters in consequence of marine casualties.”
To view or download the routes, click here.
The nations jointly developed and submitted the proposal to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to establish six two-way routes and six precautionary areas.
The proposed two-way routes will be voluntary for all domestic and international ships.
No additional Aids to Navigation (ATON) are being proposed to mark the recommended two-way routes and the routing measures do not limit commercial fishing or subsistence activities.