A Particularly Sensitive Sea Area is an area that needs special protection through action by the IMO because of its significance for recognized ecological or socio economic or scientific reasons and which may be vulnerable to damage by international maritime activities. The wadden sea is an exceptional highly dynamic tidal ecosystem of global importance, which is sensitive to the import of international shipping and other activities. The adjacent North sea is one of the worlds burriest areas in terms of international shipping and therefore the wadden sea fulfills the criteria for a PSSA designation.
In Oct, 2002 the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization designated major parts of the dutch, German and danish wadden sea as a particularly sensitive sea area (PSSA).
The criteria for the identification of particularly sensitive sea area special area are not mutually exclusive. In many cases a particular sensitive sea area may be identified within a special area and vice versa.
Guidelines on designating a ‘particularly sensitive sea area (PSSA) if they fulfill 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.
When an area is approved as a PSSA, specifie measures can be used to control the maritime activities in that area, such as routeing measures, strict application of MARPOL discharge and equipment requirements for ships such as oil tankers and installation of vessel traffic services (VTS).
List of adopted PSSA