A critical analysis of the effectiveness of the regulatory regime under the Polar Code and its application to the South African National Antarctic Programme.
Ncanini, Thuthukani Kenneth.
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A Critical Analysis of the Effectiveness of the Regulatory Regime under the Polar Code and Its Application to the South African National Antarctic Programme. The Polar Regions, the Arctic and Antarctic, have been experiencing severe ice melts which have resulted in the predictions that new shipping routes would open for vessels to navigate these regions. This proved to be disconcerting because, given the resultant ease with which the vessels would navigate the Polar Regions; this would invite more vessels and human presence to the Polar Regions. This would put the Polar environment at risk of pollution. The laws of the Artic Coastal states were applicable in the Arctic, whereas, the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) governs the Antarctic region. However, these laws did not adequately regulate the protection of the Polar environment from pollution. In 2017, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) responded to the threat on the Polar environment by introducing the International Code for Ships Operating in the Polar Waters (the Polar Code). The Polar Code brings uniformity to the laws that govern the Polar Regions, and it aims to provide for safe ship operation and protection of the Polar environment by addressing risks present in the Polar waters that are not adequately mitigated by other instruments of the IMO. The Polar Code seeks to achieve its goal by proposing the structural standards for every ship that would navigate the Polar waters. This dissertation will investigate the structural requirements of the Polar Code. The Polar Code differentiates between categories A, B, and C ships, and different requirements apply to these vessels. This dissertation will investigate the provisions of the Polar Code to determine whether they are sufficient in protecting the Polar environment. The study will then ascertain whether they apply to a South African vessel, S.A Agulhas II that frequently navigates the Antarctic waters for the purposes of the South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP). This dissertation will discuss the development of the Polar Code, the provisions thereof that deal with safety of ship operation, the provisions that aim at protecting the Polar environment, and the shortcomings of the Polar Code. The discussion will then culminate on the implications of the Polar Code to the SANAP and make recommendations.