Tubbataha Reef stays off limits

Tubbataha Reef must remain untouched to preserve its fragile natural beauty and diversity.

This was the gist of new resolution adopted by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) in its efforts to protect the famed Tubbataha Reef National Park even as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has finally approved the Philippine application for its designation as a particularly sensitive sea area (PSSA). 

In adopting the resolution, the MEPC 71 took note “of the ecological criteria, in particular relating to uniqueness or rarity, naturalness, diversity and fragility, and the socio-economic and scientific criteria of the Tubbataha Reef Natural Park as well as its vulnerability to damage by international shipping activities and the steps taken by the Philippines to address that vulnerability.”

The resolution also stated that mariners should exercise extreme care when navigating the area bounded by geographical coordinates of the PSSA.

The MEPC 71 adopted earlier the recommendation of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee approving Tubbataha as an area to be avoided by all types of ships with at least 150 gross tonnage. 

Meanwhile, the ‘Area to be Avoided’ (ATBA) is aimed at minimizing the risk of damage from running aground and pollution by international shipping activities and to protect the area’s unique and threatened species as well as to preserve its critical habitat and diversity.  

The resolution stated that mariners should exercise extreme care when navigating the area bounded by geographical coordinates of the PSSA and adhere to the ATBA.

The ATBA for the PSSA will take effect on Jan. 1, 2018 based on an IMO Safety of Navigation Circular.

 

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