22 April 2016, London - The International Maritime Organization Marine Environment Protection
Committee (IMO-MEPC) today endorsed the application of thePhilippines to designate the world-
renowned Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) and World Heritage Site as a Particular Sensitive Sea
The application was submitted by Permanent Representative to the
IMO Gilbert G.B. Asuque (photo left, center) at the plenary meeting of the
69th session of the MEPC held at the IMO Headquarters in London
on 20 April 2016
The decision of the Philippines to designate the TRNP as a PSSA under IMO Guidelines
is aimed at protecting the biodiversity and ecological sensitivity of the area from the threats
of international shipping.
The TRNP is located in the Sulu Sea, approximately 80 NM from the island of Palawan, and
is a living laboratory for the study of marine ecological processes and climate change adaptation.
It lies at the heart of the Coral Triangle, the richest biogeographic region in the world.
The TRNP presently encompasses an area comprised of a 97,030 hectare "Core Zone" and a 350,000
hectare "Buffer Zone" surrounding it. In 1993, it was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and
was also listed in 1999 in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. Since 2009
the TRNP has been designated by the Philippine Government as a national MPA through Republic
The area is significant in terms of its unique ecological, socio-economic, scientific and cultural
characteristics. Its extensive coral reefs and associated ecosystems are very vulnerable to
damage from international shipping activity, in particular physical damage and pollution arising from operational discharges and maritime incidents, as well as the introduction of
alien invasive species.
The application will now be endorsed to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC)
for the consideration and approval of protective measures to be implemented
in the area of the TRNP. These IMO-sanctioned measures are designed to further
protect the area from the hazards of international shipping. The Philippines is
proposing an “Area To Be Avoided” by ships and other watercraft over 150 gross
tons plying the area.
The MSC and the MEPC are expected to finally approve the designation and suggested navigation routes by early 2017.
PermRep Asuque was assisted in the presentation of the TRNP-PSSA proposal by Commodore Elson Hermogino, Commander, Marine Environmental Protection Committee, Capt. Rolando
Punzalan, Technical Adviser, and Ms. Emma Sarne, Alternate Permanent Representative to IMO. Prof. Jay Batungbacal of the UP College of Law assisted in the technical preparation of
the PSSA proposal.
At a coffee break sponsored by the Philippines to brief MEPC delegations on the
TRNP-PSSA proposal, PermRep Asuque (photo right) thanked IMO Secretary
General Kitach Lim for his support of the Philippine proposal in remarks during
the opening of MEPC 69. The Philippine Delegation to MEPC 69 distributed the
brochures and showed a video presentation on the TRNP-PSSA.