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U.S. Department of State

Department Seal

Notice to Research Vessel Operators No. 85 (Rev. 1)

Subject: Foreign Participation aboard U.S. Research Vessels.
Released by the Department of State, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, June 20, 1995.


U.S. policy is to invite foreign participation aboard our research vessels while conducting research in foreign waters. This requirement is in response to Article 249 1.(a) of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. It should be accepted that all coastal states have the option to decide whether or not to participate. Although probably not all inclusive, the following coastal states have stated, or experience has indicated, that participation is required as a condition of approval for marine scientific research in areas subject to their jurisdiction:

Costa Rica
Dominican Republic
People's Rep. of China
Sri Lanka
Trinidad and Tobago

U.S. scientists should plan to accommodate at least two foreign participants on their research cruises (two scientists from each coastal state granting clearance). The size of the vessel may dictate that only one participant may be accommodated, and in rare instances, there may be occasions where none can be accommodated. However, there may also be instances wherein several participants can be accommodated and this should be considered in terms of the good will it might generate. Participation generally involves travel costs for the scientists to meet the vessel, room and board while embarked, and return travel costs. There may also be additional costs in order to provide data to the participants.

Under no circumstances should a researcher submit a clearance request if there is no intention of allowing foreign scientific participation in the research project. U.S. scientists have in the past caused strained relations when they canceled their request when it was learned the coastal state planned to request participation.

In order to avoid problems involving foreign participation, the Department of State suggests that the following information be provided when making clearance requests:

1) Number of berths available for foreign participation. Two berths per coastal state is standard. If several coastal states are involved, and/or if insufficient berthing exists to accommodate the standard number of participants, please state reasons and plan to accommodate at least one participant per coastal state.

2) Ports of embarkation and disembarkation for each coastal state. In some cases it may be necessary to plan additional port calls to shuffle participants for political or economic reasons.

3) Listing of deadline dates for each coastal state to name participants. This is important because this information should be submitted with the original request.

4) Name, address, telephone and fax numbers of cruise coordinator prepared to coordinate participation directly with the coastal state. This may expedite communications and facilitate arrangements for participation.

5) Assign duties to participants as appropriate. Foreign participants can be used as watch standers. Many foreign participants have proven to be good on-board scientists and valuable contacts for future research efforts.

Needless to say, funds must be set aside to cover the travel-related costs of coastal state participation. This is a responsibility of the principal investigator for the research project, and should be considered when submitting proposals to funding agencies.

The above guidelines are being furnished in an attempt to minimize recent problems encountered in coastal state participation involving: a) late notification of planned participation by the coastal state, b) slow response on the part of researchers, c) unusual conditions of participation (at-sea rendezvous), d) insufficient space for participants resulting from lack of planning by the researcher, and e) researchers canceling requests when it is learned that foreign participation is requested. It is hoped that this notice will prepare researchers for the inevitability of having to provide berthing and funding for foreign participation.

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