Particularly sensitive sea areas-protecting the marine environment in the territorial seas and exclusive economic zones.

Author:Van Dyke, Jon M.


It is a great honor and privilege to be able to make these remarks about our dear friend and colleague, Professor Ved P. Nanda, an outstanding, prolific and renowned international law scholar, teacher, and mentor. Professor Nanda is a passionate supporter of human rights, advocate of international environmental law, proponent of sustainable development, and major contributor to the development of modern international law. Professor Nanda has espoused the application of the rule of law to international armed conflicts and consistently promoted global peace. He has international respect as an author of leading treatises, books and articles on international law and as an exceptional teacher and mentor. He has won many honors and awards.

Ved and his wife Katharine are wonderful friends and colleagues and we have known them and collaborated with them for decades. We have adored their daughter Anjali Nanda since she was a child. Anjali recently worked for Sherry at the law office and lived with us in Hawaii. She was very devoted to Sherry's human rights cases. Another project was on black carbon and international environmental law. Anjali later developed her own hypothesis on black carbon and produced an excellent article further analyzing this type of air pollution focusing on India, which was published by the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy. We are very pleased to see that she is now Editor in Chief of this publication.

In Hawaii we call our very closest friends "calabash family" which means they are family. Ved, Katharine and Anjali are our calabash family. We think of the many special times together: sitting at a cafe in Shimla drinking tea, walking on the Champs-Elysees and in the 6th Arrondissement, teaching together and collaborating on international environmental law issues and human rights, enjoying the warmth and beauty of Hawaii, attending a Ved Nanda Center for International and Comparative Law Conference in Denver, and many other things. Together Ved, Katharine and Anjali have a rare generosity of spirit and ethical approach to all matters in life and an unwavering commitment to social justice issues and making the world a better place. They have our profound respect, admiration, and affection.

In honor of Ved's contributions to international environmental law and human rights, we have examined the establishment of designated areas in the ocean that restrict global shipping, and especially Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs), recognized by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Guidelines for identification and establishment of PSSAs have been developing in the last 25 years. PSSAs provide one way to correct the imbalance favoring freedom of navigation over the interests of the coastal state to provide some protection to an area of its marine environment. Designation of a PSSA by the IMO at the request of a coastal state can be a powerful tool for protecting environmentally sensitive areas in the territorial seas and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), for placing some limits on the freedom of navigation and imposing higher standards for the protection of the environment than is allowed under existing treaties and conventions.


The oceans cover approximately 71 percent of the Earth's surface and hold approximately 90 percent of the planet's living biomass. Ocean ecosystems support all life on the planet. They provide oxygen and food, manage vast amounts of human pollutants, buffer the weather and regulate global temperature. The oceans are divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas. Because it is the principal component of Earth's hydrosphere, the world ocean is integral to all known life, forms part of the carbon cycle, and influences climate and weather patterns.

Large ships have negative impacts on marine environment, wildlife and habitats through accidental spills of oil or the deliberate, operational discharge of wastes, chemical residues and ballast water as well as the use of anti-fouling paints, and noise. It has been long recognized that large vessels do threaten the marine environment by accidents, physical damage and standard operational practices. There can be severe physical damage to coral reefs. The bunker fuel, a heavy fuel oil the shipping industry utilizes to run its engines, poses the greatest threat to the marine environment. Shipping companies favor such low-grade fuel because it is cheap. But it is extremely viscous, almost like sludge, and needs to be heated before injected into engines. The texture and viscosity of the bunker fuel makes it more ecologically dangerous and more difficult to clean up.

In creating the EEZ, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) gave coastal states significantly greater control than they had previously enjoyed over the waters adjacent to their territorial seas. UNCLOS also made coastal states responsible for protecting marine resources in their EEZs through national legislation and regulation. (1) Despite giving coastal states increased control and responsibility over their EEZs, the EEZ compromise continues to favor the freedom of navigation over coastal state jurisdiction. UNCLOS's requirement that coastal states have "due regard" for the freedom of navigation sharply constrains their ability to impose and enforce environmental efforts.

Since the ratification of UNCLOS, international shipping has increased dramatically while the global marine environment has degraded rapidly. With the expansion of maritime trade and the growth in the size of fleets, risks for the marine environment have increased. The balance UNCLOS struck in favor of the freedom of navigation is no longer...

To continue reading