A Canadian-German Research Project

Arctic Legal Framework

Shipping activities cannot happen without strong legal and institutional frameworks. The literature on this matter is rich and the topic very well-documented, but most of the papers deal with the legal status of the Arctic waters from an international point of view, while leaving the relation between stakeholders, texts and responsibilities aside.

The need for an advanced surveillance system and its incorporation into management plans and practices are intrinsically linked to the extensive set of regulations in the north and agencies that administer them. This part of the research serves to catalogue and organize key legal documents to inform the operations study. The aim here was to synthesize the findings on the state of the art regarding the legal aspects examined during the project. Our role was not to assess the accuracy of the current legal framework, but to understand how this legal framework, at different geographical scales, helps and/or hinders marine shipping in the Canadian Arctic. Another crucial aspect is to understand how the actors articulate around these texts of laws, with their responsibilities and their areas of operation. This study helps us to take into account in our scenarios and our system architecture's design, how the legal framework may have an impact, and show where the gaps might be in terms of readiness for an increase of the marine traffic.

We divided the current regulations into 4 geographical scales: international, national, local and circumpolar. Each level has a particular set of regulations that helps and/or hinders Arctic marine vessel activities.

In parallel, we developed a visualization tool coded in D3.js.

Canadian Arctic Stakeholders Analysis

Improved stakeholder integration for more effective governance of maritime activities is being promoted at several scales, for example the Marine Spatial Planning initiative of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, the integrated ocean management approach of the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, or the requirement to finalize an Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement before beginning any major development project in Nunavut. Understanding the stakeholder environment and coordinating their efforts is no easy feat, though, as the number of actors involved is ever increasing, each operating at its own scale and bring its own set of interests.

We have been studying the risks, opportunities, and future needs associated with a potential increase in shipping in the Canadian Arctic, and we noticed that the literature on the stakeholders of maritime Arctic activities lacks a holistic view of the wide range of actors involved and the relationships among them. Furthermore, the reader is often overwhelmed in the literature that does exist by the amount of details, and the sheer volume of information available makes it difficult to see the connections between stakeholders.

We gathered information on the stakeholders through literature reviews, official website mandates, and interviews, and analyzed them based on the scale at which they operate and their interests. We developed a holistic understanding of the stakeholders involved in marine vessel-based activities in Canada’s Arctic, and we displayed the results in a user-friendly visualization tool.