Unregulated ships cruise over speed agreements

“Our shipping monitors clocked another cruise ship going at excessive speed near Pond Inlet,” posted Baffinland Iron Mines on their Twitter account Sept. 22.

The social media page is full of examples of ships disrespecting local agreements over speed restrictions and zone limitations around Eclipse Sound.

“Our monitors have observed many large passenger ships traveling at troubling speeds, and sometimes entering ‘no-go zones’ established by local Inuit because of their ecological sensitivity,” said the company.

The community has a rich marine wildlife biodiversity. A group of marine mammal biologists and researchers based at Bruce Head have observed a herd of approximately 1,000 narwhals in mid-August.

Over the last few years, Baffinland stated it has put a lot of effort into adapting their shipping routes, quantity of simultaneous anchoring, location of discharge and cruising speed after concerns from Pond Inlet residents over the quantity of large ships cruising too close to wildlife habitats and the community’s shoreline.

The new Shipping Management and Mitigation Measures (SMMM) followed by the company were discussed and implemented by The Marine Environment Working Group which includes both the Mittimatalik Hunters and Trappers Organization and the Nunavut Impact Review Board, as well as other interested parties, including the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, Government of Nunavut, Department of Fisheries and oceans, Parks Canada, Oceans North and World Wildlife Fund, explained Peter Akman, Head of Stakeholder Relations for Baffinland.

Cruising companies not respecting the agreements, according to Baffinland, included; Swan Hellenic, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, PONANT Cruises and National Geographic.

“All of those companies are aware of these agreements, but there are still no consequences to not respecting them,” said Akman.

While the maximum speed was agreed at nine knots in some passages used by the cruise ships, one ship in particular, The Hanseatic from Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, was clocked at almost 16 knots, nearly twice the velocity. It’s the second time this month the cruise line has been clocked in excess of the speed limit agreement.

“Our point is not to shame or pass blame, but to raise awareness about the need for standardized regulations for all ships in northern waterways,” said Akman.

Félix Charron-Leclerc, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunavut News