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10 Safety at sea and mapping
10.1 Safety at sea
Maritime traffic in Svalbard's waters has become relatively heavy, and includes almost all types of vessel, especially along the coast. Bulk and cargo ships run to and from Svalbard and fishing vessels from a number of countries operate in the fisheries protection zone. Shrimping is also carried out in the area. There is also a great deal of tourist ship traffic in the summer season, with small boats operating from Longyearbyen and large cruise ships visiting Longyearbyen and other ports and fjords on the archipelago.
Maritime traffic currently represents one of the major pollution hazards in the waters around Svalbard. Due to the special conditions in Svalbard's waters, the incomplete marine charts and the scarcity of navigation aids, there is a particularly high risk of accidents at sea.
In many ways, the arrangements for Svalbard are different from those on the mainland, both with respect to legislation and as regards administrative authority. Neither the Act relating to harbours and fairways nor the Pilotage Act applies to Svalbard, and Svalbard is also in a unique position with respect to shipping legislation. Responsibility for maritime safety lies primarily with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Fisheries, with the Norwegian Maritime Directorate and the Coast Directorate as the executive agencies. While the Maritime Directorate is responsible for the requirements laid down for vessel safety and seaworthiness, the Coast Directorate is responsible for shipping lanes, the lighthouse and beacon service, certain navigation aids and the pilotage service.
10.1.2 Matters pertaining to safety at sea
The Norwegian Polar Institute is responsible for lighthouse operation and marking in Svalbard's waters. The Coast Directorate, which is responsible for such navigation aids along the coast of the Norwegian mainland, has served as a consultant for this work on Svalbard. Some of the navigation aids on Svalbard are maintained and operated by Trust Arktikugol. On behalf of the Norwegian Air Traffic and Airport Management, the Norwegian Polar Institute is responsible for operating air traffic beacons located in the fjords on the west coast of Spitsbergen. These beacons may to some extent be used as navigation aids by maritime traffic.
Navigation conditions in Svalbard's waters are difficult. Natural phenomena such as ice conditions, weather conditions and glaciers that slip and calve may cause changes in the waters along the coast. Depth conditions are also difficult, with the depths in some places varying from several hundred metres to almost zero within a relatively small area. In other places the water may be shallow for long distances. Fog, currents and drift ice make sailing these waters demanding. Some of the charts are incomplete, and navigation aids are few and far between in some of the waters around Svalbard.
In contrast to the mainland coast, there is currently no organized pilot service for the Svalbard area, nor are there rules stipulating that pilots must be used in the waters around Svalbard. Vessels that are unfamiliar with the waters occasionally engage a local guide. However, no formal requirements with respect to qualifications have been laid down by the authorities for persons serving as local guides in the area, nor are there any certification arrangements.
The provisions of the Seaworthiness Act are applicable to ships sailing the waters around Svalbard. However, foreign ships are not subject to the same degree of control as on the mainland. The provisions for port state control do not apply to Svalbard, but separate regulations dated 29 June 1984 have been laid down for the control of passenger ships. These invest the Governor with the authority to verify that passenger ships from all countries are certified for carrying passengers in Svalbard's territorial waters. There are no general sailing regulations for any part of Svalbard. The Tourist Regulations for Svalbard include provisions concerning the obligation to notify the Governor about sailing schedules and planned disembarkation. The regulations for the protection of Svalbard's natural environment and cultural remains also include provisions allowing the Governor to impose restrictions on maritime traffic.
10.1.3 Measures for enhancing safety at sea
The Government is aware of the increase in maritime traffic around Svalbard. This has led to a greater safety hazard in environmentally vulnerable areas and areas where the rescue service encounters major challenges due to weather conditions, long distances and limited evacuation capa-city. After some accidents and near-accidents in 1997, the Coast Directorate was therefore asked to propose measures that could enhance safety at sea in the short and the long term.
The Coast Directorate proposed that separate regulations should be laid down making parts of the mainland legislation relating to ports, waters and the pilot service applicable to Svalbard. The Coast Directorate wishes to include requirements pertaining to familiarity with the waters, use of a pilot or local guide, and provisions on regulation of waters and the obligation to notify arrivals. The Directorate also considers that requirements pertaining to ice worthiness class, maximum size, minimum visibility, ice restrictions, highest permissible speeds, traffic segregation, and provisions concerning the regulation of on-coming traffic should be laid down. Upgrading lighthouse illumination and the other beacons/markings on Svalbard has also been proposed. The Coast Directorate has argued that consideration should be given to the adoption of a general reporting obligation for vessels, and also the authority to intervene with respect to individual vessels. The Directorate has also recommended that that a survey should be made of conditions around Svalbard in the context of safety at sea, similar to that conducted along the mainland coast.
The Maritime Directorate is currently revising the legislation for maritime traffic around Svalbard. The Directorate considers that the legislation proposed by the Coast Directorate for the use of the waters around Svalbard should also include provisions governing ship certification and equipment. It may also be appropriate to issue regulations concerning maritime safety in the waters around Svalbard pursuant to the Seaworthiness Act. The Maritime Directorate has advocated that the possibility of establishing fixed sailing routes in the waters around Svalbard should be considered.
The Governor of Svalbard is drawing up provisions for regulating cruise traffic through Hinlop-enstretet.
Other measures may also be relevant for safety at sea in the waters around Svalbard, for example ice surveillance, ice warnings and marine charting of the waters, cf. section 10.2.1 Marine charting.
In order to obtain an overall plan to enhance safety at sea on Svalbard, the Government has appointed a working group to assess and coordinate the various measures that have been proposed to improve safety in these waters. The working group comprises representatives of the relevant ministries and directorates and the Governor of Svalbard.
10.2.1 Marine charting
The coastal waters of Svalbard cover approximately 46 000km2. Of this, approximately 33 300km2 have not yet been charted. Current charts mainly cover parts of the west coast and a sea lane through Hinlopenstretet. In the next few years efforts to extend the corridor through Hinlop-enstretet will be given priority, and emphasis will be given to the charting of emergency ports, escape routes in the event of ice threats and so on. Following this, shallow areas on the west side of Svalbard will be charted. The charting season on Svalbard is short, approximately three months, depending on ice conditions. Since 1992, the Norwegian Mapping Authority, which is responsible for marine charting, has intensified its efforts with regard to surveys and the production of new charts in prioritized areas of the coastal waters off Svalbard. Currently, a sea surveying expedition is dispatched to Svalbard every year, and this will continue in the coming years. The introduction of new Norwegian-designed echo-sounding technology in 1999 has made this work considerably more efficient, and production has been increased more than ten-fold in less than 10 years. So far this has resulted in new charts of Freemansundet, Heleysundet, Sørporten, Hinlopenstretet and Fosterøyene. This has enabled a new sea lane to be opened in Hinlopenstretet. All of this has helped to make sailing safer in this area.
In general there has been little systematic charting of other sea areas around Svalbard. Work on the coastal areas will be given priority in the interests of safe navigation. The Mapping Authority will endeavour to negotiate agreements for data deliveries where marine surveys can be combined with other assignments, for example research and coast guard assignments.
10.2.2 Land mapping
The Norwegian Polar Institute is responsible for topographical charting on Svalbard. It is concentrating its mapping activities on the production of digital topographical maps on a scale of 1:100 000 (S100). In order to compile good maps, a good geodetic network, accurate control points and magnetic and tide measurements are required. Such measurements are fundamental to the Institute's mapping activities on Svalbard.
Many of the current maps have been drawn on the basis of oblique aspect projections made in 1936. Even though these have been transferred to a digital format, there is a great need for updating and for new surveys. Digital maps are becoming increasingly important as a basis for geographical information systems for use in research and administration. Thus emphasis will be given to compiling and managing quality digital map data for these purposes. Prioritizing areas to be mapped and up-dating current maps will be done in collaboration with the users. A new, wholly digital production line is expected to result in shorter production times and to simplify updating in the future.
In addition to producing traditional maps, pro-cessed aerial photography, in which the picture is shown as a map (orthophoto maps), is likely to have broad application in the future, especially in research and administration. The Polar Institute plans to take new aerial photographs every 10 to 15 years.
The Polar Institute will also be given greater responsibility for large-scale maps of built-up areas on Svalbard. The costs of aerial photography and field surveys for this type of map will be borne by the users.
The Polar Institute has published geological maps on a scale of 1:500 000 of the whole archipelago. The Institute is now compiling more detailed maps on scales of 1:100 000 (west of 20° E) and 1:25 000 (east of 20° E), and 15 out of 42 maps have been published. Geological mapping requires research in order for the geological structures to be understood. The Polar Institute is therefore conducting geological research projects on Svalbard in collaboration with other national and international research communities.
In its new production line, the Polar Institute will give priority to adapting systems and methods to those used by the Norwegian Mapping Authority. This will increase the benefit derived from collaboration with the Polar Environmental Centre in Tromsø.
The Polar Institute is responsible for the bedrock and quartenary geological survey duties on Svalbard. Responsibility for resource geology lies with Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani AS.
The USA has constructed a system of satellites for navigation and mapping, called the Global Positioning system (GPS). Russia has a similar system. By means of these satellites users all over the world are able to determine their position (latitude and longitude) regardless the weather or time of day. Neither Russia nor the USA demands payment from users. However, the GPS alone is not accurate enough for a number of civil purposes. Such accuracy can be attained by means of services (differential GPS) that monitor the GPS system and broadcast correction signals. Users are also notified of any GPS errors, which for many users is just as important as greater accuracy. It has been proposed that a differential reference station for GPS should be established on Svalbard. This will also enhance safety at sea, cf. section 10.1.3 above.