Sail North West Passage?Now you'll need Permission

Babouche transiting the North West Passage in summer 2007
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With the North West Passage becoming more and more accessible to vessels of all kinds, there are sure to be adventurous cruising sailors undertaking the journey more frequently in the future.

However, you will have to register with the Canadian Coast Guard in order to obtain permission, which, until an announcement by the Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper this week, was optional.

In making this announcement, Prime Minister Steven Harper has moved to firm up Canadian control of Arctic waters.

Speaking in Tuktoyaktuk, on the western gate of the Northwest Passage, Harper says all ships sailing into Arctic waters that Canada claims for its own will be required to register with the Canadian Coast Guard.

Making this registration mandatory has long been recommended by Arctic experts.

It was not immediately clear how that requirement will be enforced, since Canada is still developing its northern surveillance system.

Harper also announced that environmental legislation protecting Arctic waters will be extended to 370 kilometres from the coastline.

Arctic sovereignty is expected to become a major issue during an anticipated Canadian fall election.