A photograph of the Russian icebreaker Pobedy.

Opening the Arctic - balance between protection and progress

An Eye on the Arctic

October 2015, Number 06.04

“In September 2014, the MV Nunavik, a Canadian icebreaking cargo ship, landed at Sachs Harbor in Canada’s Northwest Territory, having just finished transiting the fabled Northwest Passage through the Arctic Ocean. The Nunavik, owned by Fednav shipping company, was the first cargo ship in recent memory to complete the passage unaided by icebreakers.

The passage of the MV Nunavik is a milestone in the opening of the Arctic. The Arctic ice cap has been gradually shrinking since the 1950s, but the process has been accelerating since the mid-1990s, says the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Less ice makes more of the Arctic accessible for longer periods, which means the region’s rich natural resources will be easier to reach and shipping lanes will be open longer, promising potential transportation savings of hundreds of million dollars annually. But the activity needed to access these resources could degrade the environment and damage wildlife habitats.

The opening of the Arctic has drawn the attention of the five littoral countries — Canada, Denmark (through Greenland), Norway, Russia and the United States — and the neighboring Arctic states of Finland, Iceland and Sweden...”

Excerpt from Per Concordiam Staff, An Eye on the Arctic,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues  6, No. 4, 2015: 58-63.

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.