There is a growing interest in new transportation routes that combine benefits of shorter distances, cost-effective transits and routes not troubled by maritime security concerns. The Northwest Passage offers a package of routes through the Canadian maritime zone; it is 9,000 km shorter than the Panama Canal route and 17,000 km shorter than the Cape Horn route. The Northern Sea Route shortens a Hamburg-Yokohama voyage by 4,800 miles, in comparison with the Suez Canal route. The transpolar route, if it materializes with an ice-free Central Arctic Ocean route, would shorten distances even further. Given the increase in regional and international navigation and shipping in the region, it is therefore not surprising that in recent years Arctic States and international bodies focused on the needs of enhanced safety and environmental standards for polar shipping. In addition to the dedicated domestic polar shipping regulation, primarily in Canada and the Russian Federation, the Arctic Council and International Maritime Organization (IMO) have launched important initiatives. The most important is establishing of international rules for ships operating in polar waters – The Polar Code.
The study addresses the challenges facing the law of the sea. Although UNCLOS is rightly described as a constitution of the law of the sea, it does not and cannot give answers to all problems and doubts that arise in practice and that are related to global warming, protection of biodiversity, legal status of genetic resources, controversy concerning shipping, delimitation of areas or the protection of underwater cultural heritage. Hence the question arises, what the ways and means of further development of the law of the sea are. Undoubtedly, one of the possibilities is to develop implementation agreements, of which the third devoted to the protection and sustainable use of marine biodiversity outside national jurisdiction is the subject of an international conference convened by the General Assembly, whose resolutions in the area of the law of the sea play an important role. Undoubtedly, also the importance of the organization of the United Nations system, such as the IMO, FAO, UNESCO, UNEP is significant. There is also the possibility of accepting agreements addressing the issues left by UNCLOS without solution or definition. Not without significance is the soft law and the practice of states as well as the position of the organs appointed by UNCLOS.