PSSA status for Tubbataha, approved in principle

The International Maritime Organisation – Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) approved in principle the Philippines’ application for the designation of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and World Heritage Site as Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) during its 69th session held on 18-22 April 2016 in London.

The negative impacts of shipping activities in the Sulu Sea is one of the concerns of park authorities. The two grounding incidents involving a US warship and a Chinese fishing vessel in 2013 highlighted the urgent need of adding another layer of protection for the park, this time against the risks posed by international shipping. In 2014, the Philippine Government submitted its application for PSSA designation to the MEPC of the IMO.

The final decision on Tubbataha’s application is expected on the 71st session of the MEPC. Should Tubbataha be established as a PSSA, it will be the first in Asia and 15th in the world.

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