REPORT: Protecting EBSAs and opportunities for the IMO
The document highlights the potential for the use of Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs) criteria to aid in the review of existing or identification of potential Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs). The aim being to enhance the PSSA designation process and afford protection to EBSAs (or EBSA features) from international shipping activities when needed and to identify potential to share data and avoid replication of effort. A comparative analysis of their criteria, a spatial analysis of present co-occurrence, and a mapping of global shipping density data onto current EBSA distribution was undertaken in this report commissioned by WWF and undertaken by Southampton Solent University. The report highlights that both EBSAs and PSSAs share common features around ecological sensitivity and analysis of global shipping density data suggested that there are areas that may be ‘at risk’ from shipping activity and are defined as ecologically significant. In view of this the report suggests that when considering potential PSSAs in future that interested parties should be directed to consider the existence of EBSAs and utilise commonality of scientific criteria and data, where available to support the designation of new PSSAs and to review the effectiveness of existing PSSA APMs.