The international legal regime for marine scientific research
in The law of the sea
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This chapter begins by emphasising that scientific research is vital if the oceans are to be wisely used and managed. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea introduces a detailed regime for the conduct of marine scientific research. After considering the meaning of ‘marine scientific research’, a term frequently used in the Convention but nowhere defined, the chapter analyses the relevant provisions of the Convention. It explains how the requirement of prior consent for research carried out in a coastal State’s maritime zones operates. The chapter continues by discussing the general principles for the conduct of marine scientific research laid down by the Convention; its provisions encouraging research, particularly through international co-operation (given effect to through bodies such as the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission): and its regulation, albeit rather limited, of the legal status of research installations and equipment. The chapter argues that the Convention’s apparent paradigm for the conduct of marine scientific research, namely by a dedicated research vessel, has become dated as research is increasingly carried out by an array of unmanned fixed and floating devices and by remote sensing from satellites in outer space. The chapter ends by considering other regimes that govern the conduct of specific types of research, such as those of the International Whaling Commission and the Antarctic Treaty System.

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