IMO Workshop on Protecting Seas in Africa

Designating an International Maritime Organization (IMO) Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) is a recognition that the identified area may be vulnerable to potential impacts of international shipping.

In a PSSA, associated protective measures can be proposed and adopted, such as ship routeing systems, for example, areas to be avoided by ships or no-anchoring areas. But first, the area needs to be identified.

A sub-regional workshop in Nosy-Be, Madagascar (5 -7 November) is helping participants from Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Africa and the United Republic of Tanzania, to identify potential marine areas that could be designated as PSSAs.

Marine areas may be designated a PSSA if they fulfil a number of criteria, including: ecological criteria, such as unique or rare ecosystem, diversity of the ecosystem or vulnerability to degradation by natural events or human activities; social, cultural and economic criteria, such as significance of the area for recreation or tourism; and scientific and educational criteria, such as biological research or historical value.

The workshop is focusing on enhancing awareness about PSSAs; identifying the current status of protected areas and maritime shipping activities within the region, in particular the Mozambique Channel, and discussing and agreeing on areas which might be considered PSSA candidates.

The workshop is facilitated by the Agence Portuaire Maritime et Fluviale from Madagascar, in collaboration with IMO.

IMO's work on PSSAs fully supports the achievement of the UN SDG 14 on the oceans. To date, 17 PSSAs have been designated (including two extensions).