In accordance with the Revised IMO Guidelines for the Identification and Designation of Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSA Guidelines), adopted as IMO Assembly Resolution A.982 (24), an application for a PSSA will need to meet three key elements:
- The area must have recognised ecological, socio-economic, cultural heritage or scientific attributes;
- The recognised attributes of the area must be at risk or vulnerable to damage from international shipping activities; and
- There must be associated protective measures in place or that have been approved or adopted by IMO to protect the area from identified vulnerabilities.
An area being proposed for PSSA designation must satisfy one or more of the economic, socio-economic, cultural or scientific criteria described in the PSSA Guidelines. These criteria can be used by the IMO to designate PSSAs beyond the territorial sea with a view to the adoption of APMs. They may also be used by Member Governments to identify areas within their territorial seas that may have certain attributes reflected in the criteria and are at risk of damage by shipping activities.
The application should demonstrate how the recognised attributes of the area are at risk or vulnerable to damage from international shipping activities. This involves consideration of vessel traffic characteristics and natural factors (e.g. hydrographical, meteorological and oceanographic conditions). Additional information, such as evidence that international shipping activities are causing or may cause damage to the attributes of the area, and any history of grounding, collisions, or spills in the area and any consequences of such incidents, should also be included.