Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas: The IMOs Role in Protecting Vulnerable Marine Areas

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Such releases include oil and oily mixtures, noxious liquid substances, sewage, garbage, noxious solid substances, anti-fouling systems, harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens, and even noise. In addition, ships may cause harm to marine organisms and their habitats through physical impact.

These impacts may include the smothering of habitats, contamination by anti-fouling systems or other substances through groundings, and ship strikes of marine mammals.

Ship inspections help protect life, property and the environment.

An application to IMO for designation of a PSSA and the adoption of associated protective measures, or an amendment thereto, may be submitted only by a Member Government. Where two or more Governments have a common interest in a particular area, they should formulate a co-ordinated proposal2. The proposal should contain integrated measures and procedures for co-operation between the jurisdictions of the proposing Member Governments.

Applications should be submitted in accordance with the procedures set forth in section 7 and the rules adopted by IMO for submission of documents. It is clear that the Guidelines recognize that an application for designation of a PSSA may be submitted by one or more Governments. For ease of drafting, however, the use of the word Government will be used throughout the text and it should be recognized that this term applies equally to applications where there is more than one Government involved.

They can be used by IMO to designate PSSAs beyond the territorial sea with a view to the adoption of international protective measures regarding pollution and other damage caused by ships. They may also be used by national administrations to identify areas within their territorial seas that may have certain attributes reflected in the criteria and be vulnerable to damage by shipping activities.

These criteria can be divided into three categories: ecological criteria; social, cultural, and economic criteria; and scientific and educational criteria. Ecological criteria 4. Habitats of rare, threatened, or endangered species that occur only in one area are an example. An area or ecosystem is rare if it only occurs in a few locations or has been seriously depleted across its range. An ecosystem may extend beyond country borders, assuming regional or international significance.

Nurseries or certain feeding, breeding, or spawning areas may also be rare or unique. Critical habitat A sea area that may be essential for the survival, function, or recovery of fish stocks or rare or endangered marine species, or for the support of large marine ecosystems. Dependency An area where ecological processes are highly dependent on biotically structured systems e.

Such ecosystems often have high diversity, which is dependent on the structuring organisms. Dependency also embraces the migratory routes of fish, reptiles, birds, mammals, and invertebrates. Diversity An area that may have an exceptional variety of species or genetic diversity or includes highly varied ecosystems, habitats, and communities. Productivity An area that has a particularly high rate of natural biological production.

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Such productivity is the net result of biological and physical processes which result in an increase in biomass in areas such as oceanic fronts, upwelling areas and some gyres. Spawning or breeding grounds An area that may be a critical spawning or breeding ground or nursery area for marine species which may spend the rest of their life-cycle elsewhere, or is recognized as migratory routes for fish, reptiles, birds, mammals, or invertebrates.

Naturalness An area that has experienced a relative lack of human-induced disturbance or degradation.

Integrity An area that is a biologically functional unit, an effective, self-sustaining ecological entity. Biotic communities associated with coastal habitats may have a low tolerance to changes in environmental conditions, or they may exist close to the limits of their tolerance e. Such communities may suffer natural stresses such as storms or other natural conditions e. Additional stress may be caused by human influences such as pollution and changes in salinity. Social, cultural and economic criteria 4.

Scientific and educational criteria 4. It should be noted that the criteria with respect to the identification of PSSAs and the criteria for the designation of Special Areas are not mutually exclusive. This involves consideration of the following factors: Vessel traffic characteristics 5.

Vessel types Types of vessels passing through or adjacent to the area e. Natural factors 5. We provide an overview of typical measures for understanding and managing risks to sharks, and highlight critical gaps relating to incorporating socio-economic factors in to research and management. We argue that neglecting these factors hinders effective shark conservation, and has negative consequences for people.

We emphasise the importance of a holistic approach, which explicitly considers socio-economic factors in decision-making. Based on this, we propose the first framework for assessing feasibility in a shark management context, which could be integrated with traditional fisheries risk assessments in order to bridge this gap. This framework considers key dimensions of the costs, benefits and overall enabling environment for shark management in a given fishery. Overall, managers and policy makers must consider socio-economic factors in shark conservation efforts to deliver better outcomes for sharks and people.

Our simple feasibility framework can support this by enabling costs, benefits and context to be explicitly considered in planning and policy-making, alongside the typical biological and technical risks to sharks in fisheries. The Lithuanian sea space belongs to the smallest sea areas in Europe. The sea space incorporates multiple marine ecosystem services MES that support human-wellbeing and sustain maritime economies, but is also subjected to intensive anthropogenic activities that can affect its vulnerable ecological components.

Source of anthropogenic threats to MES were firstly derived from the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and include marine litter from ports and shipping , underwater noise from offshore pile driving and shipping and hazardous substances from oil extraction platforms. Results were discussed for the relevance in MES assessment for marine spatial planning in small sea areas and the methodological outlook of the application of geospatial techniques on cumulative impacts assessment within this region of the Baltic Sea.

Coastal development in small islands needs adapting to climate and ecosystem changes in the Anthropocene era. To date, few researches focused on developing macro-scale coastal vulnerability index at an island or archipelagic-scale. This paper fills a knowledge gap by developing an integrated coastal vulnerability index ICVI for nine small islands in the Azores archipelago.

Considering that degree of vulnerability varies according to human-environment traits of each coastal stretch, this paper characterises integrated coastal vulnerability according to three broad attributes, i. Using field work, semi-quantitative analysis and GIS, ICVI is a simple and relatively quick approach that provides a broad overview of coastal vulnerability in small island context.

A set of six accessible and representative parameters was employed as indicators for this vulnerability assessment, i. The entire coastline of each island was divided into segments according to their geomorphic compartments and subsequently assigned with a relative ICVI value. Each segment was ranked into five classes ranging from very low to very high based on its relative degree of vulnerability.

While majority of the coasts are of moderate relative vulnerability in the Azores, vulnerability varies broadly along the coast between low, moderate and high.

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The ICVI approach serves as a useful decision support tool to facilitate effective planning and management for the Azores small islands and the methodology has the flexibility of being scaled deep by adding more indicators where necessary and available or scaled out to other small islands. We examine the dive and movement behavior of blue, fin, and humpback whales along the US West Coast in regions with high ship traffic where ship strikes have been identified as a major concern.

All three species are known to feed in coastal waters near areas of high ship traffic.

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There were clear differences among the three species but all showed a distinct diurnal difference in diving behavior. While dive depth varied among animals based on where prey was located, whales spent a high proportion of their time closer to the surface where they would be more vulnerable to ship strikes at night than in the day. This was most pronounced for blue whales where vulnerability was twice as high at night compared to the day. We also found differences in movement patterns of whales between day and night.

Movements were more localized to specific areas in the day near prey resources while at night these movements often involved directional movements though sometimes returning to the same area. We show how in several specific areas like the Santa Barbara Channel, these differences in movements and locations translate to a very different overlap with shipping lanes at night compared to the daytime locations, which is the basis for most sighting data. Over the course of their decades-long life-spans, these platforms become ecologically important artificial reefs, supporting a variety of marine life.

When offshore platforms are no longer active they are decommissioned, which usually requires the removal of the entire platform from the marine environment, destroying the artificial reef that has been created and potentially resulting in the loss of important ecosystem services. While some countries allow for these platforms to be converted into artificial reefs under Rigs-to-Reefs programs, they face significant resistance from various stakeholders.


The presence of offshore platforms and the associated marine life alters the ecosystem from that which existed prior to the installation of the platform, and there may be factors which make restoration of the ecosystem unfeasible or even detrimental to the environment. In these cases, a novel ecosystem has emerged with potentially significant ecological value. In restoration ecology, ecosystems altered in this way can be classified and managed using the novel ecosystems concept, which recognizes the value of the new ecosystem functions and services and allows for the ecosystem to be managed in its novel state, instead of being restored.

Offshore platforms can be assessed under the novel ecosystems concept using existing decommissioning decision analysis models as a base. With thousands of platforms to be decommissioned around the world in coming decades, the novel ecosystems concept provides a mechanism for recognizing the ecological role played by offshore platforms. Climate change impacts on fisheries will undoubtedly have socio-economic impacts on coastal communities and the seafood market. However, it is a challenge to integrate climate change information in a form that can be used efficiently by adaptation planners, policy makers, and fishery managers.

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In this study, we frame a climate change impact assessment using a geographical perspective based on the management units of the dominant fishery, in this case, American lobster in Nova Scotia, Canada. The information considered here includes economic dependence on the fishery, population size, diversity of the fishery revenue, status of harbor infrastructure, total replacement cost of each harbor, increased relative sea level and flooding, and the vulnerability of offshore lobster to ocean warming and changes in zooplankton composition and anticipatory changes in fishery productivity across management borders.

Using two ocean models to provide multi-decadal scale projections of bottom temperature, changes in offshore lobster distribution are projected to have a neutral, or positive impact on the region as a whole. However, when lobster vulnerability is combined with climate change related vulnerabilities of coastal fishing communities, it is evident that adaptation planning is needed for long-term sustainability.

This impact assessment provides both a framework and information for further in-depth analyses by climate change adaptation planners and fishery managers. Fishing pressure is often expressed in terms of a vessels physical attributes, like tonnage and engine power, while a common definition of fishing capacity identifies vessel size as a convenient proxy for the size of the gear used. Nevertheless, these definitions remain arguable, and the refinement of these fishing descriptors is increasingly being considered.

A stronger understanding of the relationship between the standard measures of effort and capacity and fishing mortality remains a primary objective, followed by the need to overcome a traditional approach that simply describes effort, capacity and mortality as linearly related, conferring a greater fishing power to larger vessels.

The IMO's Role in Protecting Vulnerable Marine Areas

Self-organizing maps SOM were used to explore the empirical relationships among different parts of the fishing trawl gears, as well as between some of these parts, the otterboard size and the engine power of the vessel. Incorporating coastal ecosystems in climate adaptation planning is needed to maintain the well-being of both natural and human systems.

Our vulnerability study uses a multidisciplinary approach to evaluate climate change vulnerability of an urbanized coastal community that could serve as a model approach for communities worldwide, particularly in similar Mediterranean climates. We synthesize projected changes in climate, coastal erosion and flooding, watershed runoff and impacts to two important coastal ecosystems, sandy beaches and coastal salt marshes.

Using downscaled climate models along with other regional models, we find that temperature, extreme heat events, and sea level are expected to increase in the future, along with more intense rainfall events, despite a negligible change in annual rainfall. Consequently, more droughts are expected but the magnitude of larger flood events will increase.

Associated with the continuing rise of mean sea level, extreme coastal water levels will occur with increasingly greater magnitudes and frequency. Severe flooding will occur for both natural wetlands, beaches and built environments airport, harbor, freeway, and residential areas. Adaptation actions can reduce the impact of rising sea level, which will cause losses of sandy beach zones and salt marsh habitats that support the highest biodiversity in these ecosystems, including regionally rare and endangered species, with substantial impacts occurring by Providing for inland transgression of coastal habitats, effective sediment management, reduced beach grooming and removal of shoreline armoring are adaptations that would help maintain coastal ecosystems and the beneficial services they provide.

Although not adhering to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's criteria for marine protected areas, whale sanctuaries are an increasingly common approach to conservation around the world. This paper is the first in the academic literature to use a case study approach to review the extent to which whale sanctuaries contribute to ecosystem-based management. A fifteen-criteria framework for marine ecosystem-based management is applied with reference to six whale sanctuary case studies, including the International Whaling Commission's two designations in the Indian Ocean and Southern Ocean.

Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas: The IMOs Role in Protecting Vulnerable Marine Areas Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas: The IMOs Role in Protecting Vulnerable Marine Areas
Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas: The IMOs Role in Protecting Vulnerable Marine Areas Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas: The IMOs Role in Protecting Vulnerable Marine Areas
Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas: The IMOs Role in Protecting Vulnerable Marine Areas Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas: The IMOs Role in Protecting Vulnerable Marine Areas
Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas: The IMOs Role in Protecting Vulnerable Marine Areas Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas: The IMOs Role in Protecting Vulnerable Marine Areas
Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas: The IMOs Role in Protecting Vulnerable Marine Areas Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas: The IMOs Role in Protecting Vulnerable Marine Areas
Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas: The IMOs Role in Protecting Vulnerable Marine Areas Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas: The IMOs Role in Protecting Vulnerable Marine Areas
Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas: The IMOs Role in Protecting Vulnerable Marine Areas Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas: The IMOs Role in Protecting Vulnerable Marine Areas

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