Shipping Traffic in Canadian Arctic Nearly Triples

A new study on shipping in Canada’s Arctic has found that traffic in the region almost tripled between 1990-2015.

The researchers found that the annual distance traveled by all vessels grew from around 350,000 kilometers to over 900,000 kilometers with the majority of growth occurring over the past decade.

Cargo ships as well as government vessels, including icebreakers, account for the largest share of traffic while pleasure craft, primarily private yachts, represent the fastest growing type of craft increasing more than 20-fold over the 25-year period. This rapid growth in adventure tourism-related shipping activity represents a unique challenge to safety of navigation along the route.

“It is pleasure craft that concern me the most. Harsh and unpredictable weather can always be a risk – and this combined with variable ice conditions can pose serious safety and navigation risks along the Northwest Passage (NWP),” explains Jackie Dawson, lead author of the study, associate professor at the University of Ottawa and Canada Research Chair in Environment, Society and Policy.