Norway To Tighten Safety Operating Regulations in Svalbard

The Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) is hosting expedition industry stakeholders in what it calls an open dialogue meeting in Longyearbyen on Oct. 24 (2018)

NMA stated that its objective is to develop and introduce stricter safety regulations for ships operating in Svalbard.

With an enhanced cruise port facility in Longyearbyen and with a growing fleet of expedition ships, as well as more traditional cruise ships, the NMA said it expects increased traffic to Svalbard and particularly in Isfjorden.

In addition, there are new safety concerns as the melting ice makes new and uncharted sailing areas accessible.

Among the topics being considered is enhanced medical facilities aboard and deck area to hoist people for helicopter evacuation; tender vessel requirements; route planning in charted waters in prescribed distances from shore and glaciers; procedures and equipment to protect people from polar bears if evacuated on ice or ashore.

Operators can also apply for exceptions to the rules, provided they can demonstrate an equal level of safety within the spirit of the new regulations.

The NMA commented that for new ships, the new rules are not expected to have any significant cost impact, but for older and smaller vessels the new rules may require rebuilds that exceed their value.

For ships that have operated in Svalbard for the past three years, a five year transition is proposed.

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