U.S., Russia propose Bering Strait ship traffic routing measures

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States and Russian Federation have jointly proposed a two-way route system for vessels to follow in the Bering Strait and Bering Sea.

According to a press release from the U.S. Coast Guard, the nations jointly developed and submitted the proposal to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to establish six two-way routes and six precautionary areas.

Officials hope that the routes will help ships in the area avoid the numerous shoals, reefs and islands outside the route, which in turn they hope will reduce the potential for marine casualties and environmental disasters.

The countries have seen an uptick in both commercial and recreational shipping traffic in the area recently. Both the U.S. and the Russian Federation have territorial waters off the coast of Alaska and the Chukotskiy Peninsula, which is why they are doing this.

“Over the past decade, the U.S. and Russia have both observed a steady increase in Arctic shipping activity,” said Mike Sollosi, the chief of the U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Standards Division. “The U.S. Coast Guard is engaging international and interagency partners across borders in developing joint proposals for ship routes in waterways that we share.”

No additional Aids to Navigation (ATON) are being proposed to mark the recommended two-way routes and the routing measures do not limit commercial fishing or subsistence activities.

The proposed two-way routes will be voluntary for all domestic and international ships.

To see the proposed routes, click here.