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Which one of the following statements best describes the ‘Polar Code’?

(a) It is the international code of safety for ships operating in polar waters.

(b) It is the agreement of the countries around the North Pole regarding the demarcation of their territories in the polar region.

(c) It is a set of norms to be followed by the countries whose scientists undertake research studies in the North Pole and South Pole.

(d) It is a trade and security agreement of the member countries of the Arctic Council.

Explanation

The correct answer is:(a) It is the international code of safety for ships operating in polar waters.

  • The Polar Code is the international code of safety for ships operating in polar waters developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
  • It sets regulations on ship design, construction, equipment, operational, training, search and rescue and environmental protection for ships operating in inhospitable polar waters surrounding the Arctic and Antarctic.
  • The Code aims to protect the polar regions from maritime risks and entered into force on January 1, 2017.

The other options are incorrect:

  • (b) It is not an agreement between Arctic countries on territorial demarcation. The Arctic countries have overlapping and disputed territorial claims in the Arctic region.
  • (c) It does not prescribe norms for scientific research in the polar regions. However, research in the Arctic should follow ethical guidelines like the Principles for Conducting Research in the Arctic.
  • (d) It is not a trade and security agreement under the Arctic Council. The Arctic Council has negotiated agreements on search and rescue cooperation and oil pollution preparedness and response.

Learn more:

  • The Polar Code covers mandatory safety (Part I-A) and pollution prevention (Part II-A) measures and additional guidance on both (Parts I-B and II-B).
  • It is enforced through existing IMO treaties – the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).
  • The Code sets standards for ship construction and equipment like ice-strengthening and stability requirements under 3 categories based on ice conditions.
  • It applies to ships operating in polar waters though some vessels like fishing vessels under 500 GT are exempt.
  • Recent criticism is that it does not address air pollution, greenhouse gases and some known issues.

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