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Scientific Research

Main issues

Along with the increasing need of sea space for maritime activities, determined by growing Blue Economy, scientific research and monitoring of the marine environment and ecosystems has grown rapidly in the last years. This is to increase knowledge on ocean state, trends and functioning, and also to support knowledge on marine resources availability, both biotic and abiotic and increase understanding of the impacts of human activities. Space at sea is also needed for field testing of new technologies in fields like e.g. renewable energies, aquaculture. Such research can be very space consuming.

MSP needs to accommodate the spatial needs for scientific research and monitoring, minimizing interferences with other maritime activities.

Key issue is distinction between research requiring permanent or long-term occupation of sea space, such as installation of research platforms or areas for testing new technologies and the research that can be done without reserving space, such as monitoring campaigns, surveys, scientific trawling. Research requiring permanent sea occupation needs deep concern from MSP but also the second type has to be considered when planning marine space, since access to monitoring areas should be allowed without conflicting with other activities taking place in the same area.

Provisions from UNCLOS are available for marine research[1]. Research is a freedom in the high seas (Art. 87), and all states may conduct scientific activities there (included land-locked states), but exclusively for peaceful purposes and for the benefit of mankind as a whole. Instead, within its territorial sea, a coastal state has the exclusive right to authorise, impose terms on, or refuse research activities (Art. 245). Coastal states have also the right to regulate, authorise and conduct marine scientific research in their EEZ and on their continental shelf (Art. 246). They will normally be expected to grant consent to other states and competent international organisations to conduct MSR, unless a limited range of exceptions apply, such as where research would be of direct significance to exploration for or exploitation of natural resources.

[1] Daniel T. 2006. Marine Scientific Research under UNCLOS: a Vital Global Resource? Internation Hydrographical Review 7 (2): 6-17.

Please note that this section of the EU MSP Platform website is not currently being updated with new information. However, the resources throughout our website remain relevant to our mission of sharing knowledge and experiences on MSP in the EU.

Frequently Asked Questions

Monitoring and Assessment Strategy


The Strategy is a common plan to monitor and assess the health of the Baltic Sea in a coordinated and cost-efficient way between all HELCOM Contracting Parties.

  • Jan 2013