Regulating Marine Scientific Research in the European Union: It Takes More Than Two to Tango
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Long, Ronan (2012) 'Regulating Marine Scientific Research in the European Union: It Takes More Than Two to Tango' In: M. Nordquist, J.Norton Moore, F. Soons, and H. Kim(Eds.). The Law of the Sea Convention: U.S. Accession and Globalisation. Leiden/Boston : Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.
The EU and the Member States are party to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The EU has been a long-standing proponent of the conceptual underpinnings of the 1982 Convention as a package deal that balances conflicting interests in an equitable manner. Among the provisions of the package which are particularly germane to achieving this objective are those that are in Part XIII which facilitate and encourage the conduct of marine scientific research (MSR). These provisions are increasingly important in attaining the overall objectives of the EU s Integrated Maritime Policy and its environmental pillar, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which among other matters aims to promote new approaches to marine resource management including the ecosystem approach. Ronán Long With a view to investigating the legal constraints and opportunities at an EU level for improving the implementation of this new normative concept in marine environmental management, this paper traces the progressive development of EU policy in relation to MSR and undertakes a brief review of current Member State practice in relation to implementation of Part XIII of the 1982 Convention. This is followed by a short account of EU regulatory instruments, which are relevant to improving access to data, samples and the results of scientific research on marine ecosystems. The paper concludes by suggesting a number of steps that could be taken by the EU to streamline the current consent regime that applies to foreign vessel MSR with a view to facilitating the practical implementation of ecosystem approach at a pan-European level. A brief analysis of a number of policy and legal options is undertaken with a view to improving the collection and provision of scientific information and data across the maritime boundaries of the Member States. The paper suggests that the proposed course of action will facilitate a gradual transition from the current fragmented approach to the authorisation of ship-based MSR towards a fully integrated governance system in line with the requirements of a range of EU and international legal instruments. The proposed harmonisation measures sit comfortably with the 1982 Convention which places express obligations on States and competent international organisations to create favourable conditions for the conduct of MSR and requires them to adopt reasonable procedures that promote and facilitate MSR. The author contends that the proposed governance structure and harmonisation instrument will support the sustainable and integrated management of marine ecosystems. The identification of such structures and the streamlining of administrative procedures is one of the core objectives of the EU funded ODEMM project which is examining various options for ecosystem-based management in the European marine environment. Regulating Marine Scientific Research The path to long term recovery from the current economic crisis; the path to tackling key societal challenges; the path to ensuring a prosperous and secure Europe, lie in research and innovation.