North West Passage Politics

The Nort West passage route through the Ccanadian Artic Archipelago
The North West Passage Route

I alluded last post to the debate on who has ownership of the North west passage; a debate as intense as any of the mysteries of its discovery.  All routes have to go  through the Islands of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago  and because of this Canada claims the route as Canadian internal waters but the US claims they are International Waters and as such transverse them without notification. Who owns the Arctic ocean is hotly debated and I have found this wonderful article that you can peruse at your leisure that debates this particular issue along with this ICE case study from 2006 that I found fascinating.

I am Canadian so I know what I think – anyone out there reading this let me know your thoughts and concerns. One thing is certain in the past few years with the climate change, arctic ice is melting and that is allowing more access to the NW passage and I foresee this debate becoming a problem – I truly hope not but the politics are sensitive and involve a number of countries including Russia. Although this article states that the NW passage may not be the bonus everyone thinks it might be.  Looking at all this current conflict about the NW passage is intriguing and interesting and the question of what will happen is always there. Maybe next post it will be worth while looking at what the benefits would be if the NW passage is opened up. I must admit I for one cannot really see any but worry about the environmental damage that might ensue.

 

North West Passage – Early History

The HMS Erebus from the ill fated Franklin Expedition of 1845
HMS Erebus trapped in Ice

There is nothing more exciting than pushing the frontiers going where no man has gone before. Ok I know that’s a Star Trek reference but its fits the story of the search for the North west passage. This is the passage that would lead sailors to a route from the Atlantic to the Pacific via the arctic archipelago that is now my home of Canada,

As early as the late 15th century explorers tried to discover a shorter route to the Pacific and the wealth of the East, the exotic Orient.  What an exciting time that must have been and dangerous! Many of the famous mariners of history have attempted to discover this mysterious and often consider fanciful passage. A book I bought Arctic Explorers by Frances Hern gives some great descriptions of the adventures of these men. Driven by economy to find a safer passage for their ships these men where adventurers and pirates! It is no wonder there stories held me mesmerised but what I had not realized until starting this blog how true some of them where.  Men mutinied and ships disappeared, mysteries abounded.  Last year one of the mysteries was resolved. In 1845 the Franklin expedition set sail, two ships the HMS Terror and HMS Erebus  and after being sited by whalers in  Lancaster Sound they were lost for 170 years only to be found last year by  Canadian scientific team. Unfortunately the find has been a little overshadowed by the politicizing of whom the North west passage belongs to.