"An area which needs 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 maritime activities."
In 2002, the World Summit on Sustainable Development adopted the Plan of Implementation, which strongly highlighted its commitment to the implementations of Agenda 21. International and trans - Arctic shipping was put under significant pressure to decrease the impact of marine accidences and their impact on highly sensitive Arctic marine environment.
Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas are internationally recognized highly sensitive and highly protected locations, because of their ecological, socioeconomic or scientific significance.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) stressed out the guidelines for designating those areas in A.982 (24) resolution: ´´Revised guidelines for the identification and designation of Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs) ´´. These guidelines include criteria such as unique or rare ecosystem, diversity and vulnerability to degradation by the nature or human activities.
There are many international and national instruments encouraging the protection of areas important for the conservation of the Arctic biological diversity as well as other areas with very high ecological, cultural or socio – economic significance. These instruments are to protect such vulnerable areas from damage or degradation caused mainly by the shipping activities.
Ship owners and operators can take action through ensuring the integrity, maintenance and effective environmental management of their vessels and the responsibility of the environment requirements in which their ships would be operating.
In order to meet the latter of PSSAs provisions, it is important for all the Arctic states as well as the other nations to act individually and collectively to identify sensitive locations with high vulnerability to shipping impacts.
Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas were proposed as a consequence of the scientific measures which are available internationally, in order to help to reduce accidents and prevent pollution by controlling all the activities of vessels and shipping operations.
Please, access the IMO website for the full list of highly sensitive areas.
Source: Revised Guidelines for the Identification and Designation of Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas