The commercial activity in the maritime Arctic represents a multiplex set of activity types. The activities in the Arctic includes intra- and inter-regional transportation, the search for and exploitation of petroleum and mineral resources, fisheries and cruise tourism. Limited infrastructure, low temperatures with ice and icing, polar lows and the polar night challenge maritime operations in this region. The present risk and vulnerability related to life, the environment and values might create a challenge and a need for better emergency preparedness.
Norwegian ships represent the majority of the maritime activity in the High North. Therefore, Norway has invested heavily in search and rescue (SAR) and oil recovery capacity over several years. However, the capacity will still be low in the North, and there is a need to plan for help from neighboring countries when severe incidents happen. The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nordland County Administration have emphasized the importance of building competence on international coordination and partnerships within the maritime emergency preparedness system. Nord University in Bodø, Norway has received significant funding from these two institutions to establish an international research network on Arctic safety and security.
The MARPART project emphasizes maritime partnerships on emergency preparedness and includes around fifteen universities and research institutions in all the Arctic countries. Within the project, the focus has been on the maritime risk factors and institutional barriers for preparedness partnership. The project has revealed the risk factors, institutional barriers and managerial challenges of cross-border preparedness partnerships in the Arctic. We elaborate on the responsibility of the governments for preparedness as relates to safety, security and environmental protection, and the need for enhanced measures to respond to composite challenges. This includes SAR, oil spill recovery, firefighting and salvage, and actions against terror or other forms of destructive action. To increase both effectiveness and efficiency within the preparedness system, we are in need of management tools for coordination and control, making optimal use of the joint resources of several institutions both within and between countries. The project covers the capacity, the competence and the organizational design of the institutions responsible for task force management.
Experiences from real incidents and exercises show that there is a need for developing best practices on education, training and exercises, and creating common standards and tailor-made training and exercise schemes for the personnel involved in an emergency. The MARPART project follows initiatives within the Arctic Coast Guard Council and the Emergency Prevention Preparedness and Response (EPPR) working group of the Arctic Council.
We still have few training programs emphasizing cooperation and management of combined actions at different levels. In addition, there is a lack of cross-border knowledge exchange and integrated programs on education, training and exercises. The competence issues are, however, difficult to target. To achieve this objective we need increased knowledge accumulation and knowledge transfer across institutions and borders to facilitate transparency in emergency response management. If not, we may risk incompetent actions and failures, and lose the optimal effects of costly intra- and inter-institutional training and exercises.
One of the main outcomes of the MARPART project will be the identification of competence gaps that exist in the field of training and education, as well as recommendations and guidelines for the development of emergency key personnel in the Arctic. It will also pinpoint the standards and regulation requirements regarding the training and competence for emergency cooperation in the Arctic. In particular, there is a need for the development of systematic analysis of different countries’ competence systems in the Arctic region, and a critical approach to design and train objectives in combined exercises that are scheduled on an annual basis.
The research partners within the project have initiated a Thematic Network on Arctic Safety and Security within the University of the Arctic. We hope that this network will represent a permanent platform for research cooperation, exchange of competence and joint educational programs for safety and security in the Arctic.