Work title: NORDFLOE
Interesting, but not so strong or radical.
Needs another review!
even there is a forma proposal, it doesn''t shows an alternative to disrupt economic flows in the region. There is a vague reference to use the infrastructure to enhance the participation of Inuit population in the export economy. [CR]
“Nothwest Passage crossed by first cargo ship, the Nordic Orion, heralding new era of Arctic commercial activity.” – National Post, September 27, 2013
The successful voyage of the Nordic Orion through the Northwest Passage actualizes an event predicted by many sailors and scientists in the last several decades, not to mention the instantiation of perhaps the most fabled trade route of the last 600 years. The inevitability of bulk shipping in the Canadian North is further exacerbated by the certainty that the Artic contains the world’s largest untapped reserves of oil and natural gas, a fact which has triggered an anxious race which involves some of the world’s most powerful countries and corporations.
Canada which occupies the second largest share of the Arctic region has been engaged in a geopolitical tussle for at least three decades with the United States, with the Northwest Passage at its center. Canada claims the Passage, which traverses the Canadian Artic Archipelago, as internal waters; a sovereign part of the Canadian nation. The United States argues that there is no basis in international law for Canada to claim the Arctic waters as internal waters. This dispute promises to intensify even further due to the rising frenzy displayed by nations and energy companies in what Michael T. Klare describes as the ‘Arctic Invasion’ in his most recent book (2012).
Canada, for its part does not seek to restrict international maritime movement in the Northwest Passage. According to a statement made in September 1985 by its then Secretary of State for External Affairs Joe Clark, Canada’s policy was “to make the Northwest Passage a reality for Canadian and foreign shipping, as a Canadian waterway” (Pharand 2007). Donat Pharand explains “The reason that the Passage should remain Canadian is that it is the only way to protect adequately certain fundamental national interests” (Pharand, 2007, p. 48). Pharand goes on to list these interests as the security of the Arctic region, the protection of its fragile and increasingly threatened ecosystem, which in turn is essential for the sustenance of the indigenous population that inhabits this region.
Another key political instrument in this process of strengthening Canadian sovereignty is the NORDREG, a voluntary system adopted in 1977 to facilitate the safe maritime movement in the Canadian Arctic waters. A potentially powerful instrument of Canadian sovereignty, many scholars of the region such have proposed making NORDREG mandatory, using it as a regulatory framework to deal with the impending ‘Internationalization’ of the Passage. Using this as a springboard, we propose NORDFLOE: a tactical intervention which deploys a series of repeatable spatial products to bestow visibility, physical as well as symbolic, to the NORDREG and its ostensible project – the sustainable facilitation of large scale maritime movement in the Northwest Passage while at the same protecting and enhancing the extremely vulnerable ecosystem of the region. We see NORDFLOE as a politico-infrastructural alternative to the rehearsed scripts of militarization that often accompany disputes of this nature.
NORDFLOE takes the form of infrastructural ‘floes’; floating bundles of infrastructure which provide baseline services for some of the key activities taking place, and projected to take place in the region. We envision these to be (i) inter- nodal cargo processing (ii) the enforcement of pollution prevention laws, (iii) on site research on marine ecosystems and aquaculture (iv) rapid response to search and rescue calls, and (v) remote surveillance of maritime movement. Furthermore decoupling NORDFLOE from traditional port installations will help facilitate the participation of the growing (and increasingly youthful) Inuit population in the export economy in a well calibrated manner.
The ‘floes’ will attempt to strengthen Canada’s claims to sovereignty and provide a fluid and productive alternative to military deployment. Rather than anticipating a mandatory NORDREG, NORDFLOE will operate as an operative occupying the space between mandatory and voluntary, mobile and stationary. The components of the floe will be towed to their locations and stabilized with segmented ballast tanks and anchors, more permanent than a vessel, but less so than a port. We envision the first three floes being deployed off the coast of Sachs Harbor in the Inuvik Region, Resolute Bay in the Qikiqtaalik Region and Cambridge Bay in the Kitikmeot Region, close enough to land for frequent transportation, but far enough to make a territorial impact. NORDFLOE operates like a remote control, providing the Canadian State with a mechanism for reinforcing territorial claims while at the same time helping facilitate a sustainable mercantile future for the Northwest Passage.