UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Icebergs dead ahead : anticipating increased maritime shipping in the Canadian Arctic Grove, Alan Jon


Shipping is a fundamental feature of life in the Canadian North. Climate change is opening waterways between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, introducing the possibility of new vessels plying these waters as a transitory space. Furthermore, community growth and economic development activities have increased domestic maritime traffic in the region as well. The regulation and support of shipping in the region has come under question as sea ice retreat reveals open waters. This thesis examines the question of how are the present and the prospective future of shipping in the Canadian Arctic managed and governed. I situate my work in the fields of critical polar studies, anticipatory geographies, and Arctic geopolitics. I use expert interviews with policy makers in Transport Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment Canada, the Canadian Ice Service, the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Economic Development and Transportation, along with perspectives from officials at the World Wildlife Fund and the Centre for the North to answer these questions. I argue that the perception and anticipation of a well–managed and well–supported maritime space guides the actions of Canadian officials. Officials view shipping as a holistic activity where meaningful government intervention is limited. I further argue that the logic of prevention is most useful in understanding policy makers’ activities in this forum, and the effective presence in the region through management and support of shipping demonstrates the Canadian state’s sovereignty. Canada is at the forefront of regulations, support, and techniques to manage and support shipping in the Arctic, offering a perspective on present shipping, and how anticipating future shipping has shaped actions of the domestic agencies, the Arctic Council, and the International Maritime Organization.

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