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Charting the way on international, regional, and national shipping and environmental protection initiative

TECHNICAL COOPERATION FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT under the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad)

Completion of the IMO Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP) Project in 2017 and way forward:
With a focus on prevention of pollution from ships through the adoption of Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs) within the East Asian Sea Region

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Malaysia actively participated through the Ministry of Transport and relevant national agencies in one of the major components of the Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP) programme focusing on the Identification and Designation of Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs) as part of the IMO – Norad cooperative initiative in the South East Asia.

The area identified by Malaysia for enhanced protection due to shipping activities and impact on the coastal and marine environments include Pulau Kukup (or Kukup Island) and Tanjung Piai (or Cape Piai) located at the southern tip of Peninsular Malaysia in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS). The primary ecosystems in the area are mangroves and intertidal mudflats which support significant fisheries, aquaculture, and tourism sectors. These are presently established as Wetlands of International Importance under the RAMSAR Convention and priority National Parks. Both areas are however subjected to heavy international shipping pressures being located in the narrow stretch of the straits, with notable adverse environmental impacts.

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During the IMO MEPC-71st Session in 2017

Environmentally, the SOMS is an important sea area for the littoral states encompassing major marine and coastal ecosystems and supports a major fisheries industry. In 2015, more than 80,000 commercial vessels traversed the straits, with the number expected to reach 123,000 by 2024 according to a study conducted by MIMA. In addition, there are as many as 15,000 fishing vessels in the straits, as well as numerous others involved in cross-straits passages between the littoral states. Navigation in the straits therefore requires extreme caution and professionalism on the part of the commercial vessels, and on the provision of adequate safety of navigation and environmental protection measures by the littoral and user states.

Members of the shipping industry and user states should continue to work closely with the littoral states to improve safety of navigation in the straits. The proposed PSSA by Malaysia is one such current effort and has been highlighted under the Cooperative Mechanism on Safety of Navigation and Environmental Protection in the SOMS, a landmark voluntary arrangement between the littoral and user states and other stakeholders, in the spirit of UNCLOS’s Article 43.

The present environmental management in the straits comprises national and international laws which are supported by traffic management measures such as the Traffic Separation Scheme, the Mandatory Ship Reporting System and the Vessel Tracking Management System as well as national and sub-regional plans for oil spill response. The systems in place form the backbone of vessel-based pollution prevention and management and could be considered as the ‘life-support-system’ of the straits. The measures put into place by the littoral states address safety of navigation concerns; however more can be done in light of the increasing challenges and risks posed to the SOMS environment.

Assistance from IMO - Norad programme has initiated, facilitated and coordinated the preparation of the Malaysian proposal in accordance with the IMO Guidelines for the identification and designation of PSSAs (Resolution A.982(24)) together with the adoption of associated protective measures applicable to international shipping to protect the marine environment. Regional and national activities undertaken as part of the project have driven the formulation and conduct of appropriate planning and execution, besides promoting greater coordination among the stakeholders involved at the regional, national and local levels.

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During the Technical Working Group at the IMO MEPC-71st Session

Some of the major outcomes include developing the proposal for the designation of PSSAs which included collecting required elements for a PSSA application as set forth in the PSSA Guidelines, noting in particular the need for co-operation and consultation across relevant stakeholders, drafting the application in accordance to the format set forth in the PSSA Guidelines, carrying out consultations through relevant platforms, and ensuring readiness for implementation, compliance monitoring and enforcement. The Malaysian PSSA proposal was submitted to the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) 71st Session in 2017.  

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The 3rd IMO - Norad PSSA Regional Meeting in Lombok, Indonesia in July 2016 with the participating and observer countries 

Overall achievements under this programme include increased awareness and understanding of the IMO PSSAs process, enhanced knowledge and national capacity on the establishment of PSSAs, comprehension on the preparation of the IMO PSSA submission template, as well as necessary follow-up actions required towards review and implementation.

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The recent SOMS Cooperative Mechanism discussed a way forward on the Malaysian
PSSA proposal

Malaysia is committed to building capacity gained under the programme. Efforts on this area will continue towards enhanced shipping management and environmental protection in the SOMS in cooperation with related stakeholders.

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During one of the national consultations meeting under the IMO - Norad PSSA project

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Friday, 19 January 2018 17:04

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