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21 January 2004, 04:07 pm
Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSA) High On Agenda
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International Regulations

Among the topics to be discussed at the upcoming Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) are the submissions for PSSA designation of the Canary Islands and the Baltic Sea.
PSSA's or Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas, are areas that need special protection through action by IMO because of its significance for recognized ecological or socio-economic or scientific reasons and which may be vulnerable to damage by international maritime activities. Guidelines as to what constitutes a PSSA are very complicated as they try to take into account the interests of the flag state, coastal state and the environmental and shipping communities as well as looking at scientific, technical, environmental and economical information regarding the specific site and its risk of damage from International shipping communities. To date there are currently five different PSSA's around the world:

Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Sabana-Camagüey Archipelago, Cuba
Malpelo Island, Colombia
Around the Florida Keys, United States
Waddenzee , Northern Europe

The Great Barrier Reef was designated a PSSA in 1990; Sabana-Camagüey Archipelago was designated a PSSA in September 1997. Malpelo Island and Around Florida Keys were designated in April 2002; the Waddenzee area in Northern Europe was designated in October 2002.

These sites are considered to be amongst the most precious in the world regarding marine ecology and are therefore protected, not only from shipping routes but also the discharge of Pollutants and other toxic substances (MARPOL).

The proposals for PSSA status of the Canary Islands and the Baltic Sea can be found by following the links below.

ISAF request the views of all interested parties regarding these proposed designations by 6 February. Views should be addressed to Sebastian Edmonds at the ISAF Secretariat.
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