Marine Scientific Research

The global oceans cover two-thirds of the earth's surface and represent a massive amount of scientific information. Nearly all disciplines of science are represented in the ocean sciences, including inter alia: biology, chemistry, geology and physics. Much of the knowledge gained from the seas has implications not only for the pure sciences, but for applied sciences and technology as well. Currently, the amount of information that is known about the oceans is a fraction of what there is to know. Technological requirements for marine scientific research are steep, and much modern ocean science research tools represent the cutting edge of modern technology.
The importance of marine scientific research has been recognized internationally, as is reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III, 1982). UNCLOS III is the most comprehensive international legal agreement with respect to the world's oceans and their associated areas, and their governance. UNCLOS III mandates that its signatory states cooperate to promote marine scientific activities for peacful purposes and to benefit mankind (UNCLOS, Part XIII). Presently, however, marine scientific research endeavors are turning more and more towards specific goals, as the global oceans are stressed and their health is deteriorating. The most pressing problems are:
  • alteration and destruction of habitats and ecosystems
  • effects of sewage and chemicals on human health and on the environment
  • widespread and increased eutrophication
  • decline of fish stocks and other renewable resources
  • changes in sediment flows due to hydrological changes

(GESAMP, 2001). The consequences of these problems for humanity are potentially extreme. In order to effectively address these issues, sustainable management policies and practices must be developed for and implemented in the global oceans. Marine scientific research is critical to this process, as scientific information is necessary to informed decision making by policy makers and managers, as well as to monitor the effectiveness of such policies.

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