Polar Shipping Law

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Polar Law, Arctic, Antarctic, Shipping Law, Boundary Disputes, Canada


This Chapter examines the current state of shipping law as applicable to the Polar oceans. It starts by providing an overview of the international law of polar shipping, that is, the general legal and institutional frameworks and the specific initiatives and regimes developed for Polar shipping within the International Maritime Organization. Its perspective then shifts to the regional and subregional level where specific Arctic and Antarctic realities have given rise to distinct institutional and legal developments. In a last part, it will shed light on the domestic Arctic coastal state regimes established by Norway, Russia and Canada, as well as on the remaining Arctic coastal states’ legal strategies. The Chapter will conclude with a critical assessment of the current state of Polar shipping law, with respect to both the adequacy and the coherence of these various legal regimes and initiatives.