April 29 - There is little benefit to developing shipping infrastructure in the Arctic suggests a new report issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The GAO was asked to produce the report in response to the fact that decreasing seasonal sea ice has opened up Arctic waters for longer periods with resulting potential economic opportunities in commercial shipping, cruises, commercial fishing, oil, and mining.

Given the importance of U.S. efforts to effectively manage Arctic issues, GAO was asked to examine U.S. actions related to developing and investing in Arctic maritime infrastructure.

The organisation, which serves as a watchdog for federal spending, says deep water ports, mapping and other infrastructure improvements will only go so far in attracting more ships.

For the container shipping companies, the report says one problem is Arctic routes would be seasonal, while that industry needs steady, year-round schedules.

Some U.S. policy makers disagree with the findings of the report and suggest that with Arctic maritime activity on the rise due to the shrinking sea ice, now is the time to start building infrastructure.

See the full report here: www.gao.gov/assets/670/661762.pdf