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The Wadden Sea Designated as a PSSA



  PSSA Designation

Bettina Reineking, Common
   Wadden Sea Secretariat,
                                                 The Wadden Sea Designated as a PSSA
       Wilhelmshaven, FRG

                                 The Wadden Sea has been designated as a Partic-       Guidelines for the Identification and Designation
                                 ularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA). At its meeting in   of Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (IMO Assem-
                                 London on 07-11 October 2002, the Marine Pro-         bly Resolution A.927 (22), MEPC 47/20 report sec-
                                 tection Environment Committee (MEPC), which is        tion 8.13). Furthermore, the area should be at risk
                                 a committee installed by the International Mari-      to the impact of international shipping. Associat-
                                 time Organization (IMO) and responsible for des-      ed protective measures for PSSAs are limited to
                                 ignating PSSAs and Special Areas according to         actions within the purview of the IMO. This in-
                                 MARPOL, designated the Wadden Sea as a PSSA.          cludes the option to designate an area as a Spe-
                                 The IMO is the United Nations’ agency responsi-       cial Area under MARPOL 73/78, the adoption of
                                 ble for the world-wide regulation of shipping. The    routeing and reporting systems, and the develop-
                                 designation implements the agreement of the           ment and adoption of other measures aimed at
                                 Wadden Sea ministers’ conference in Esbjerg in        protecting specific sea areas against environmen-
                                 2001 to submit an application to the IMO to des-      tal damage from ships, such as compulsory pilot-
                                 ignate the Wadden Sea as a PSSA and concludes         age schemes and installation of vessel traffic Ser-
                                 an almost ten-year discussion and political deci-     vices (VTS). The IMO stated that the criteria for
                                 sion-making process on the issue.                     the identification of PSSAs and the criteria for the
                                                                                       designation of Special Areas under MARPOL are
                                                                                       not mutually exclusive. In many cases a PSSA may
                                                                                       be identified within a Special Area and vice versa.

                                                                                         History: Development since
                                                                                         the 80s in the Wadden Sea
                                                                                       The PSSA designation instrument has been dis-
                                                                                       cussed since the late 70s/early 80s. First, the Great
                                                                                       Barrier Reef, Australia was designated a PSSA in
                                                                                       1990 and the first “Guidelines for the Designa-
                                                                                       tion of PSSAs” were adopted by the MEPC/IMO in
                                                                                       November 1991. The guidelines were revised in
                                                                                       1999 and 2001 and provide guidance to IMO
                                                                                       Member Governments in the formulation and sub-
                                                                                       mission of application for the designation of PS-
          Photo: K.-E. Heers
                                                                                           Already in the late 80s, the Wadden Sea was
                                                                                       discussed and recommended as a potential PSSA,
                                                      What is a PSSA?                  e.g. on several expert workshops and in reports
                                 A PSSA is an area that needs special protection       dealing with PSSAs (e.g. WWF 1987). In 1993/94,
                                 through action by the IMO because of its signifi-     the first discussions started with regard to con-
                                 cance for recognized ecological, socio-economic       sidering identifying jointly the Wadden Sea as a
                                 or scientific reasons, and which may be vulnera-      PSSA on the level of the three concerned coun-
                                 ble to damage by international maritime activi-       tries. The Wadden Sea would, it was assumed by
                                 ties. The PSSA concept offers the opportunity to      experts, apparently meet the criteria for being
                                 enable the development of common jurisdiction-        identified as a PSSA. However, what would be the
                                 al and enforcement regimes for environmentally        added value of the potential designation, which
                                 significant marine areas. The value of designating    exact area should be identified, what would be
                                 a PSSA is an opportunity for coastal states to uti-   the implications of the designation, those were
                                 lize more effectively their existing powers to reg-   questions raised; and how did it relate to the on-
                                 ulate the passage of ships through the territorial    going discussion in the framework of the North
                                 sea (Southampton Institute, 2001).                    Sea Conferences to designate the North Sea as a
                                     In order to be identified as a PSSA, the area     Special Areas according to MARPOL Annex 1.
                                 should meet at least one of the ecological, socio-        Particular active in the discussion during the
                                 economic or scientific criteria entailed in the IMO   period was the German Marine Working Group

Wadden Sea Newsletter 2002 - 2
                                                                                                                                             PSSA Designation                                                                  11

“Environmental Impact of Shipping” (Meerskundli-
che Arbeitsgruppe Umweltfolgen der Seeschiff-                                                                                                                                            Esbjerg    DENMARK

fahrt), which advised the German Federal Envi-                Map of the Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) Wadden Sea                                                                            Ribe
                                                              as designated by the IMO
ronment Agency and Ministry on shipping related
issues in 1994.
                                                                           Particularly Sensitive Sea Area Wadden Sea
   The Wadden Sea Conference in 1994, which                                                                                                                                                                  Tønder

was held in Leeuwarden, agreed to study and con-                       0     10        20       30         40    50    Kilometers
                                                                                  UTM-projection zone 32

sider a proposal for designating the Wadden Sea
and an adjacent zone as PSSA. In 1995, the Es-

bjerg North Sea Conference agreed to develop a
proposal to the IMO for designating the North Sea                                                                                                                                                     Tönning

a Special Area under MARPOL Annex 1. This des-                                                                                                                                                                         Heide

ignation came into force in 1999 and was impor-
tant for the further PSSA Wadden Sea discussion

in two respects. It was an essential measure in
the sense that it paved the way for a PSSA desig-
nation and its associated measures. It also removed                                                                                                                      Wilhelmshaven

the anxiety of many experts, policy-makers and                                                                                                        Delfzijl

politicians that the designation of a PSSA Wad-                                                            Harlingen
                                                                                                                             Leeuwarden   Groningen

den Sea prior to a Special Area designation would
further cause difficulties to the North Sea Special       Den Helder
                                                                                                                       THE NETHERLANDS

Area designation which was considered particu-
larly important for Denmark and Germany.              was presented in WSNL 2001-3 (Johnson et al.
                                                      2001). The study aimed at addressing basically
                 Studying the PSSA                    three questions:
The decision to study whether a joint proposal        • Would the Wadden Sea qualify to be desig-
could be made to the IMO to designate the Wad-            nated as a PSSA under the IMO guidelines and
den Sea was reiterated at the Stade Wadden Sea            in case of a positive review which area would
Conference in 1997. Furthermore, the ministers            qualify?
welcomed the mandatory routeing measures for          • Would the current protective measures suf-
oil and chemical tankers off the Dutch and Ger-           fice a designation or would it be necessary to
man Wadden Sea, which was based on a joint                define and implement further associated pro-
Dutch-German proposal to the IMO. The further             tective measures to qualify for a designation?
discussions on enhancing shipping and environ-        • What would be the benefits and burdens of a
ment safety became particularly acute with the            potential designation?
stranding of the “PALLAS” off Amrum in the Ger-          The study recommended that an application
man Wadden Sea in November 1998. A relatively         should be made to the IMO for the designation of
small accident with a spill of some 250 tons of       the Wadden Sea Conservation Area as a core area
fuel oil and sludge but with relatively large im-     PSSA and a buffer zone consisting of a risk area
pact on birds.                                        from maritime hazards in the adjacent North Sea.
    On behalf of the Wadden Sea Team, in October      Further the study concluded that an application
2000, WWF Germany published a report on the           could go forward on the basis of no additional as-
designation of the Wadden Sea as a PSSA to pre-       sociated protective measures, but the authors rec-
vent shipping accidents. The report entailed ten      ommended three additional associated protective
proposals for the designation of a Wadden Sea         measures e.g. compulsory pilotage for certain
PSSA and associated protective measures, e.g. the     ships.
extension of compulsory pilotage and the estab-
lishment of safe havens (WWF, 2000).                          Esbjerg Conference – the
    In autumn 2000, the trilateral cooperation                          Break Through
commissioned the elaboration of a feasibility study   The recommendations of the feasibility study were
on the designation of the Wadden Sea PSSA, as         comprehensively discussed in preparation of the
decided at the 1997 Stade Conference. The feasi-      Esbjerg Conference. An ad-hoc shipping expert
bility study was elaborated by the Maritime Re-       group of representatives from competent shipping
search Centre, Southampton Institute, United          and nature conservation authorities, as well as
Kingdom. A comprehensive summary of the study         representatives from non-governmental organi-

                                                                                                                                                                                Wadden Sea Newsletter 2002 - 2
12                               PSSA Designation

                                    zations was installed by the Trilateral Working        the Wadden Sea PSSA recognizes the full range of
                                    Group (TWG)- the policy working group preparing        economic activities associated with the Wadden
                                    the conference - to examine the recommenda-            Sea area.
                                    tions of the Southampton study and advise the              The Wadden Sea is the 5th designated PSSA
                                    TWG on how to proceed further.                         worldwide, but the first one designated on the
                                       The negotiations resulted in the decision of the    basis of a joint application by three states and the
                                    ministers at the conference to submit an applica-      first in Europe. Other PSSAs are the Great Barrier
                                    tion to the IMO for the designation of basically       Reef, Australia (1990); the Sabana-Camagüey Ar-
                                    the marine area of the Wadden Sea Conservation         chipelago in Cuba (1997); Malpelo Islands, Colum-
                                    Area consisting of the German Wadden Sea na-           bia (2002); and the area “Around the Florida Keys”,
                                    tional parks and the Dutch and Danish Wadden           United States (2002). The Wadden Sea is hence
                                    Sea nature reserves. The application was to be         rightfully member of an exclusive, international
                                    made on the basis of no further associated pro-        circle.
                                    tective measures since the Wadden Sea and the
                                    adjacent North Sea is already subject to an ex-                                                   Follow-up
                                    tensive regime of protective measures, consisting      After the formal decision of the designation of the
                                    of both international and national regulations, that   Wadden Sea PSSA in October 2002, the IMO will
                                    aim at reducing the impacts from and risks relat-      notify its members of the Wadden Sea PSSA des-
                                    ed to shipping. Examples of relevant measures are      ignation by a circular, and as of that date the des-
                                    the MARPOL I and V Special Areas against dis-          ignation of the Wadden Sea PSSA will be con-
                                    charge of oil and garbage, routeing systems mak-       firmed and formally enter into force.
                                    ing certain shipping routes compulsory for ships           The designation of the Wadden Sea PSSA will
                                    carrying hazardous goods and compulsory report-        now be communicated to a wider audience. Di-
                                    ing for ships. Such a PSSA would not limit ship-       rectly after the decision a jointly agreed press re-
                                    ping in the area or the use of the Wadden Sea          lease was distributed in the countries. Next year
                                    harbors. The major shipping routes had been ex-        it is planned to publish a brochure and a map of
                                    cluded from the designation.                           the Wadden Sea PSSA in the three languages to
                                       The application was elaborated as a joint tri-      inform the communities along the coast and the
                                    lateral application by representatives of the com-     stakeholders of the PSSA designation. Also next
                                    petent shipping authorities in the countries to-       year the Trilateral Wadden Sea cooperation will
                                    gether with members of the TWG and delivered to        have its 25th anniversary. This will be an occasion
                                    the IMO in June 2002, the first possible date after    to celebrate the PSSA designation in the coun-
                                    the conference in 2001. The result was the posi-       tries and to honor all those in governments and
                                    tive decision of the MEPC to designate the Wad-        non-governmental organizations who have con-
                                    den Sea as a PSSA (see Figure 1).                      tributed with a lot of time, effort and dedication
                                                                                           to obtain a Wadden Sea PSSA designation.
                                           Benefits for the Wadden                                                                         References
                                                               Sea                         Johnson, D., S. Lewey, P. Park, J. Hoar, M. Pourzanjani, S. Fletch-
                                    The designation is not only a recognition of the       er, S. Tarver 2001. Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA), Wad-
                                    Wadden Sea as a world wide unique nature area          den Sea Feasibility Study. WSNL 2001 – No.3: 9 – 12.
                                    but also of the wide range of (inter-) national        Southampton Institute 2001. Particularly Sensitive Sea Area
                                                                                           (PSSA) Wadden Sea Feasibility Study: Advice to the Trilateral
                                    measures already taken by the Wadden Sea states
                                                                                           Wadden Sea Cooperation. Maritime Research Centre, Faculty
                                    to protect the area. The Wadden Sea PSSA will be       of Technology, Southampton Institute, May 2001 (Amended
                                    included on the relevant sea charts. It will send      July 2001): 91pp. and Annexes.
                                    out a message internationally as to the irreplace-     WWF 1986. Der Ökologische Zustand der Nordsee. Eine Be-
                                    able environmental value of the Wadden Sea. As         standsaufnahme anlässlich der 2. Internationalen Nordseekon-
                                    indicated in the Southampton study, the PSSA           ferenz.
                                    Wadden Sea has the potential to provide incen-         WWF 2000. Protection of the Wadden Sea from ship acci-
                                                                                           dents through the establishment of a “PSSA Wadden Sea”.
                                    tive for a better shipping safety and reduction of     WWF Deutschland, Frankfurt am Main. 47 pp.
                                    impacts from ships. The designation is considered
                                    to furthermore heighten awareness of enforce-          Bettina Reineking
                                    ment agencies and the judiciary and to contrib-        Common Wadden Sea Secretariat
                                    ute to a more closer collaboration between the         Virchowstr. 1
                                    countries’ shipping authorities. It should also be     D-26381 Wilhelmshaven
                                    recognized that the criteria for the designation of

Wadden Sea Newsletter 2002 - 2

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