PSSAs help protect fragile environments from the risks posed by shipping
watch an animation to find out how PSSAs protect vulnerable seas
find out how PSSAs work in a few quick questions and answers
explore the Galapagos, the Great Barrier Reef and more
watch video of the bird and marine life in the world's PSSAs

What is a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA)?

A PSSA is an area that needs special protection through action by the International Maritime Organization (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. At the time of designation of a PSSA, an Associated Protective Measure is adopted by IMO to prevent, reduce, or eliminate the threat or identified vulnerability.

How many PSSAs are there, and where are they?

There are sixteen PSSAs, located all over the world. Some are large, like the Western European Waters, and some protect tiny gems of nature like Malpelo Island in the Pacific Ocean. You can see them all and find out more about them using the map. Click here to explore.

What type of measures apply to PSSAs?

Each PSSA needs its own particular protection regime, so specific Associated Protective Measures are introduced for each. These APMs might consist of areas to be avoided, compulsory ship routeing, ship reporting, or recommendations on how shipping should pass through an area.

Who is responsible for designating PSSAs?

The Marine Environment Protection Committee of the International Maritime Organization works with coastal states and flag states to identify and establish new PSSAs.

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