The International Maritime Organization, Pacific Regional Environments Programme (SPREP) and Pacific island representatives met in Nadji, Fiji for a workshop to designate key areas as Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs) in the Pacific Ocean.
The IMO and SPREP identified areas off the of Papa New Guinea, the Cook Islands, Fiji and Kiribati waters as meeting the PSSA criteria. Areas near the Tonga, Marshall and Solomon Islands are also being considered. Representatives from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Palau and Papua New Guinea attended the seminar.
“The Pacific region possesses some of the most outstanding ecological resources in the world. These resources face many pressures including from international shipping. Despite this, the region does not have any designated PSSAs to protect these areas from such pressures. It is our hope that, through this workshop, Pacific island countries can come up with a workable plan to develop and submit a successful PSSA proposal,” said the IMO’s Edward Kleverlaan.
PSSAs are areas that require special protections to be set in place because of its ecological, socio-economic or scientific attributes that make it vulnerable to damage from international shipping activities.
A PSSA can gain additional protection by achieving global recognition through the adoption of protective measures like ship routing systems and proposing that specified areas be avoided or establishing shipping lanes to reduce the risk of collisions.
The training workshop also instructed each representative in the development of four-year national action plans aimed at structuring PSSA proposals to the IMO in the future.