Particularly Sea-Sensitive Areas and Marine Protection Zones. A Controversial Issue that needs Interpretation

Aristotelis B. Alexopoulos


It has been accepted that when an area or zone has been approved as being particularly sensitive, some specific measures against maritime activities and environmental issues can be adopted for monitoring and control. Marine zones have been used around the world as an important resource management tool. They can help protect sensitive natural resources from overuse, separate conflicting visitor uses and preserve the variety of marine life, or biodiversity, of an area. A Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) is an area that needs special protection through action by 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. However, the criteria for the identification of particularly sensitive sea areas and those for the designation of special areas are not mutually exclusive. The relevant conventions both at the international and regional level (UNCLOS, MARPOL, Barcelona) have detailed provisions dealing with such zones or areas. Even the Exclusive Economic Zone has been used as a semi-ecological zone by some states when shipping activities are involved. This paper will investigate the current situation in the Mediterranean Sea, specifically what kind of protection zones and other marine protection areas are established but create problems in terms of multiple uses and different users, and then discuss and propose a basis-network of zoning that is consistent with international law, to be functioning in the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly in Greek waters.
JEL Classification: K33; Q58; R41.
Keywords: Sensitive Areas; Ecological Zones; Shipping; Pollution; Greek Seas.

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