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Area-based Management on the High Seas: Possible Application of the IMO’s Particularly Sensitive Sea Area Concept

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Area-based management is an important tool to improve integrated conservation of high seas biodiversity. While States clearly support the need to protect high seas biodiversity, some States remain reluctant to adopt internationally binding measures that may have an impact on high seas freedoms. Since there is limited experience to date with the application of area-based management tools on the high seas, this article examines the practical implications of establishing such measures through an analysis of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) particularly sensitive sea area concept. After providing an overview of the legal complexities associated with the designation of high seas marine protected areas, this article introduces the PSSA concept and identifies the unique features that make it appropriate as a measure for protecting high seas biodiversity. The core of the analysis is an examination of State practice within the IMO in the context of the potential designation of a PSSA in the Southern Ocean.

Affiliations: 1: Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS) University of Wollongong Australia; 2: Marine & Environmental Law Institute, Schulich School of Law Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada; 3: Emsworth, Hampshire UK

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