US, Russia unite on Bering Strait ship traffic routes

Image: Petty Officer 2nd Class Nate Littlejohn/US Coast Guard
Image: Petty Officer 2nd Class Nate Littlejohn/US Coast Guard – Frosti and Canadian Coast Guard ice breaker Sir Wilfrid Laurier in the Bering Strait.

The United States and Russian Federation have proposed six two-way routes for vessels to follow in the Bering Strait and Bering Sea to deal with increased Arctic shipping traffic.

The US Coast Guard said the joint proposal to establish the routes and six precautionary areas was submitted to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

The routes, which are within US and Russian Federation territorial waters off the coasts of Alaska and the Chukotskiy Peninsula, are being recommended to help ships avoid the numerous shoals, reefs and islands outside the routes and to reduce the potential for marine casualties and environmental disasters.

The two-way routes would be voluntary for all domestic and international ships and no additional aids to navigation (ATON) were being proposed.

US Coast Guard Navigation Standards Division Chief Mike Sollosi said commercial fishing or subsistence activities would not be affected.

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