Despite reports of a boom in Arctic ship traffic, a recent report by the Government Accountability Office concludes commercial industries aren’t planning to boost shipping through the Bering Strait or elsewhere in the U.S. Arctic over the next decade.
While some federal policymakers say now is the time to start building infrastructure to take advantage of shrinking sea ice, the GAO says deep-water ports, mapping and other infrastructure improvements will only go so far in attracting more ships.
For the container ship companies, one problem is that Arctic routes would be seasonal, while that industry needs steady year-round schedules. And the cruise industry says mainstream cruise lines aren’t drawn to the Arctic because, according to the GAO report, the 10-day journey is too long, the scenery unvarying and interesting ports too scarce.
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski issued a statement disagreeing with the main message in the report, saying she believes Arctic maritime activity is on the rise and the U.S. needs to think long-term.
-By Liz Ruskin, APRN
Canada: Shipping challenges in Canada’s North-West, Eye on the Arctic
Finland: New Finland icebreaker can operate sideways with asymmetrical hull, Yle News
Norway: Norwegian company looks to Alaska for Arctic shipping port, Alaska Dispatch
Russia: Russia, icebreakers and Arctic identity, Blog by Mia Bennett
United States: Alaska and Arctic Shipping: Boon or Boondoggle?, Blog by Mia Bennett