Greenpeace today called upon member states of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to stand firm and resist a move by the Russian Federation, Panama and Liberia intended to block a proposal to protect vulnerable habitats in the Baltic Sea from the threats posed by shipping.
This week the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee will
consider conferring protected status to the Baltic Sea as well as
around the Canary Islands and the Galapagos, by declaring them
Particular Sensitive Seas Areas (PSSAs). The PSSA status enables
the re-routing of ship traffic away from sensitive marine habitats
as well as other measures to regulating shipping.
The Russian Federation is intending to derail the process of
protecting the Baltic by calling for a review of the guidelines for
designating PSSAs. It is aided by the world's two biggest flag of
convenience states - Panama and Liberia, and a number of industry
bodies (1) which between them represent a large proportion of the
world's sub-standard single-hulled tankers.
"The proposed review is a ploy which will only protect dirty
shipping interests and put sensitive marine environments at risk,"
said Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace Oceans campaigner.
The area of the Baltic being proposed as a PSSA is particularly
sensitive because of its unique hydrological conditions, low
salinity and semi-enclosed nature and is under threat from
extremely dense shipping traffic constantly crowing due to
increasing exports of Russian oil. Greenpeace has campaigned for
the designation of the Baltic as a PSSA for the last two and a half
With the PSSA, a number of other measures such as compulsory
traffic surveillance, routing systems, escort and escort tugs,
pilotage and areas to be avoided can be considered by the IMO in
order to increase the safety of shipping in the Baltic. Greenpeace
is also calling for better regulation of shipping by coastal
authorities, high quality ship construction, high quality of crews
as well as improved liability regime to increase the safety of
Notes: (1) Shipping industry bodies supporting the review of the Baltic PSSA guidelines include BIMCO, the International Chamber of Shipping INTERCARGO, INTERTANKO, OCIMF and the International Parcel Tankers Association (IPTA).