Specially Designated Marine Areas in the Arctic High Seas

The Specially Designated Marine Areas in the Arctic High Seas report was released in March 2014. The projects objective was to explore the need for, and as appropriate make recommendations regarding, internationally designated areas in the high seas area of the Arctic Ocean that warrant protection from the risks posed by international shipping activities.

AMSA Specially Designated Marine Areas in the Arctic final report by DNV signedSummary:

The objective of this report was to explore the need for, and as appropriate make recommendations regarding, internationally designated areas in the high seas area of the Arctic Ocean that warrant protection from the risks posed by international shipping activities. It is emphasized that this report focuses solely on the high seas area of the Arctic Ocean. No assessment is made regarding the need to protect designated areas which are under the jurisdiction of the Arctic Ocean coastal states.

Part I of this report deals with the need for protection of the high seas area and presents a description of two main issues; a) the traffic and risk levels in the Arctic Ocean high seas, present and future, and b) the vulnerability of the biological resources found in the Area.

Part II of this report reviews the available IMO measures suited to protect vulnerable areas, in particular the Special Areas (SA) option and the Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) option. Based on the review of available designated area measures, combined with the environmental conditions and the potential for ship traffic of the Arctic high seas, DNV conclude that it is difficult to find support for Special Area (SA) designation under MARPOL.

DNV further find support to pursue the application of a PSSA for providing additional protection of the Arctic high seas. Three possible avenues to pursue this option are outlined. The most feasible may be to establish a "Core sea ice area" as a sanctuary for unique and vulnerable Arctic high seas ecosystems, and to protect this through a PSSA designation with Areas to be avoided as an Associated Protective Measures (APM). This option ensures protection of an increasingly important core area, but will likely not impede movement on the high seas which is a major principle in international law.

Download Part I:
Deals with the need for protection of the high seas area and presents a description of two main issues;
a) the traffic and risk levels in the Arctic Ocean high seas, present and future, and
b) the vulnerability of the biological resources found in the Area.

Download Part II:
Reviews the available IMO measures suited to protect vulnerable areas, in particular the Special Areas (SA) option and the Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) option.