Space technology and marine scientific research

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  • Space technology and marine scientific research

    G. M. Danilenko

    This article looks at the role of suace The effective and rational utilization of living and non-living resources technology in marine scientific re- search. It discusses the uses of remote

    of the oceans requires further comprehensive study of the phenomena

    sensing and its principles and relevant and processes occurring in the marine environment. Investigation of the

    international law. marine environment can be conducted either directly in the marine

    G. M. Danilenko, kand. iurid. nauk., Insti- environment itself or by means of equipment installed in other areas, in

    tute of State and Law, USSR Academy of particular, outer space. As the effectiveness of the relevant space

    Sciences, 10, ul. Frunze, Moscow, USSR. technology improves, the collection of oceanic data from outer space is of increasing importance in marine scientific research.

    The adoption of the 1982 Convention has considerably restricted the spatial area of application of the principle of freedom of marine scientific research. The 1982 Convention has proclaimed the jurisdiction of coastal states with regard to marine scientific research in the 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and established a consent regime for such research carried on by research vessels and at installations. In accordance with international law, however, scientific research in marine areas under the jurisdiction of coastal states by using remote sensing from outer space continues to be governed by the principle of the freedom of outer space. Of major importance for the further development of the legal regime of marine remote sensing are the Principles Relating to Remote Sensing of the Earth from Space drafted by the United Nations Outer Space Committee and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1986.

    This article shows the importance of remote sensing in the Oceans through the use of space technology, discusses the results of negotia- tions concerning marine scientific research by satellite at UNCLOS III, and analyses the rules of international law and the Principles Relating to Remote Sensing of the Earth from Space as applied to marine areas.

    Remote sensing of the oceans using space technology

    Remote sensing from space means the study of the characteristics of objects and phenomena on the surface of the Earth by means of sensors placed on orbiting spacecraft. The Principles Relating to Remote Sensing define remote sensing as the sensing of the Earths surface from space by making use of the properties of electromagnetic waves

    UN Dot A/Conf 62/122, 1982. *UN Dot A/41/20, 1986, pp 24-26. 3UN Dot AlRes 41/65, 1986.

    emitted, reflected or diffracted by the sensed objects, inter ah, for the purpose of improving natural resources management and the protection of the environment (Principle 1).

    0308-597X/88/030247-09$03.00 0 1988 Butterworth & Co (Publishers) Ltd 247

  • Space rechnology and marine scien/ific research

    Ocean Science for the Year 2000, Inter- governmental Oceanographic Commis- sion, Paris, 1984, p 36. %putniki-Okean, Izvestiia, 2 November 1979. /bid; and J.R. Apel, Past, present and future capabilities of Satellites relative to the needs of ocean sciences, The Import- ance and Application of Satellite and Re- motely Sensed Data to Oceanography, Paris, 1978, p 39. zgdcit, Ref 5.

    Technology and Oceanography. An Assessment of Federal Technologies for Oceanographic Research and Monitoring, Washington, DC, US Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, 1981, p 8. she services of research vessels are still necessary, for example, to provide surface truth and calibration measurements. Op tit, Ref 4, pp 26-27; and Apel, op tit, Ref 6, P 7. B.A. Nelepo, Remote sensing of the ocean in the USSR, op tit, Ref 6, p 42. /bid p 42; and Okno na Okean, Izves- tiia, 18 January 1984. 13Pravda, 2 November 1979. 14L.A. Vedeshin, Socialist countries cooperation in implementing comprehen- sive projects in the area of remote sens- ing, Proceedings of Scientific Readings on Aeronautics. International Scientific Coop- eration and Legal Aspects of Space Ex- ploration, Moscow, 1986, p 28 (in Rus- sian). 150p tit, Ref 9, p 98. ?Status of US Marine Research. Hearing before the Subcommittee on Oceanogra- phy of the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, US Congress, House of Representatives, 98th Congress, 2nd ses- sion, 1985, p 182 (Letter from D.J. Barker President, the Joint Oceanographic Institu- tions, Inc). See also NASAs long-range plans, Hearing before the Subcommittee on Space Science and Application of the Committee on Science and Technoloov. US Congress, House of Representatives, 99th Conaress. 1 st session, 1986. DP 132- 133 (Statement of B.I. Edetson, Associate Administrator for Office of Space Science and Applications, NASA). 17Law of the Sea, Report of the Secretary General, UN Dot A/41/742, 1986, p 22. See the Statement of the representative of Japan in the UN Committee on Outer Space (COPUOS), UN Dot A/AC. 105/SR 283, 1986, p 5; and Izvestiia, 20 Febuary 1987.


    Experience indicates that Earth satellites can provide unique scien- tific information about the marine environment. Special oceanographic satellites can, for instance, measure sea surface temperature, determine the directions and distribution of surface winds and waves, and map the distribution of sea ice and concentrations of surface chlorophyi.4 As space oceanic observations become more effective, marine sensing data will be of increasing significance both for the fundamental marine sciences and various uses of the sea, specifically, shipping and fisheries. Thus, information about surface winds, storm areas, and ice conditions regularly received from satellites is of significant value for shiprouting and off-shore operations. Chlorophyl data are valuable for the study of the biological productivity in the sea.6 Such a study is of crucial importance to scientifically sound fisheries management. Remote sensing of coastal waters can help identify promising oil and gas areas. Satellite data are important for marine pollution control, in particular, for detecting surface oil spreads.

    Although remote sensing capabilities are restricted to shallow depths, they provide a unique opportunity to conduct continuous large-scale observations of oceanic surface at any point of the globe. Specialists point out that certain surface phenomena related to large-scale ocean processes can be effectively investigated only by means of space technology. Although in most cases the use of satellites does not reduce the need for marine research by traditional oceanographic methods, the development of marine remote sensing leads to a more rational combination of research vessels and satellites investigating, on the one hand, limited areas at all depths, and, conducting on the other hand, global monitoring of the ocean surface.

    The growing importance of marine remote sensing for the develop- ment of the marine sciences and uses of the sea explains the interest of various states in the use of space technology for the collection of oceanic data. The USSR conducts marine remote sensing via manned orbital stations and satellites of the Cosmos series.12 Much attention is focused on cooperation in this sphere with other socialist countries. For example, within the framework of the Intercosmos Programme a special satellite (Intercosmos-20) has been put into orbit to study oceanic processes. The socialist countries have approved a special programme of experiments to investigate the world ocean by remote sensing methods for 1986--1990.4

    As for industrialized Western countries, the USA launched its first oceanographic satellite SEASAT back in 1978. The satellite played an important role in developing space oceanographic techniques. ls Various federal agencies have designed new programmes based on satellites developing remote sensing capabilities. The US Navy and NASA plan to launch new satellites to measure winds, currents, and biological productivity of the ocean (such as the Navy Remote Ocean Sensing Satellite - NROSS).

    A remote sensing satellite with high spatial resolution (SPOT-l) was launched by France in late 1985. For the use of its remote sensing data in marine areas French scientists have developed and tested an improved method of locating sea-mounts. In his Report on the Law of the Sea the United Nations Secretary General pointed out that thisis of interest for both geological mapping and fisheries resources assessment.

    Japan launched its first remote sensing satellite (MOS-1, the Marine Observation Satellite) for world ocean explorations in February 1987.

    MARINE POLICY July 1988

  • Space technology and marine scientific research

    ?See the Statement of the representative of FAO in COPUOS, UN Dot A/AC 105/PV 150, 1983, p 27. 2oOp cif, Ref 17, pp 22-23. 2Article 2(l) and Article 49. In resp&i of the territorial sea this is directiy specified in Article 245. 23Article 246(2). 24Article 246(5). 5Article 248. Article 249. *Article 87( 1) and Article 257. 28Article 256. 9Article 240. 30Article 242 and Article 244.

    Expanding remote sensing oceanographic activities are accompanied

    by broadening international cooperation in the use of marine remote sensing data at both global and regional levels. Thus, the Food and Agricultural Organization has initiated pilot studies on the use of marine remote sensing data for fisheries to help assess the marine environment. The importance of regional cooperation in the use of marine remote sensing data was emphasized for instance by the United Nations Regional Meeting of Experts on Space Technology Application in the Indian Ocean Region (1986). The meeting called, among other things, for cooperation in the application of marine remote sensing in EEZ exploration, in particular, to the nearshore and coastal biological and geological parameters, such as synomptic measurements of water, wind, wave heights and currents, and upwelling areas, and surveys of alternate protein sources.*

    Existing regime of marine scientific research

    In contemporary international law the regime of marine scientific research is determined by the status of the marine areas where it is conducted. In areas under the sovereignty of coastal states, marine scientific research can be carried out only with the express consent of the respective coastal state. In granting its consent for marine scientific research in internal waters, archipelagic waters, and the territorial sea, which according to the 1982 Convention are under the sovereignty of a coastal state, * that state can lay down any conditions.**

    In marine areas under the jurisdiction of coastal states, marine scientific research is also conducted only with their consent. In defining the consent regime for marine scientific research in the EEZ and the continental shelf23 the 1982 Convention provides that the coastal state may in its discretion withhold its consent to the conduct of a marine scientific research project if that project is of direct significance for the exploration of natural resources, whether living or non-living.24 States which intend to undertake marine scientific research in an area under the jurisdiction of a coastal state provide that state with a full description of the project in advance.* When undertaking marine scientific research in these areas states must comply with a number of conditions, in particular: ensure the right of the coastal state to participate in the marine scientific research project and provide it with the final results and conclusions after the completion of research, and assessment of all relevant data and information. The coastal state may require prior agreement for making internationally available the research results of a project of direct significance for the exploration and exploitation of natural resources.2h

    In accordance with the 1982 Convention, which in this regard confirms the generally recognized rules of international law, freedom of scientific research can be exercised only on the high seas2 and in the international seabed area.* In this case states are obligated only to follow some general principles. Thus, there are requirements to conduct marine scientific research exclusively for peaceful purposes,2 to promote international cooperation in this area, to disseminate scientific data and information, and to promote the transfer of knowledge resulting from marine scientific research.

    The consent regime relating to the conduct of marine scientific research in the vast areas under coastal state jurisdiction (approximately

    MARINE POLICY July 1988 249

  • Space technology and marine scienrific reseurch

    31 Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, Official Records (UN- CLOS), Vol II, No V, p 342. %N Dot A/Conf 62/C 3/L 13 - UNCLOS, Vol Ill, No V, p 254. 33UN Dot AXonf 62/C 3/L 17 - UNCLOS, Vol III, No V, pp 263 ff. %lN Dot AiConf 62/C 3/L 13IRev 2 - UNCLOS, Vol IV, No V, p 199. %ee the Statements of the representa- tives of France (UNCLOS, Vol iv, No V, p 106) and Poland (UNCLOS, Vol IV, No V, p 108). ?See the Statement of the representative of Poland (UNCLOS, Vol IV, No V, p. 108). See also statements by representatives of Switzerland (ibid, p 109) and Sweden (ibid, p 110).

    40% of the oceans) resulted from long and complicated negotiations at UNCLOS III. The results were influenced by the interest of the overwhelming majority of states, mostly developing, in establishing such a regime that would ensure coastal states control over the conduct of research to protect their economic and other interests in coastal areas.

    A noteworthy feature of the Conference negotiations on marine scientific research was the fact that the developing countries sought to apply the consent regime not only to research conducted directly in the marine environment, but also to marine research utilizing space technology. These countries feared that remote sensing satellites would be used instead of research vessels to evade, as the Mexican representative put it, the requirements laid down by the coastal state concerning the marine area under its sovereignty or jurisdiction.

    The first formal proposal for the regulation of marine scientific research representing the consensus of the Group of 77 was submitted by Colombia.* It provided that marine scientific research in marine areas under national jurisdiction shall not be conducted without the explicit consent of the coastal state. States conducting scientific research should disclose the nature and the objective of the research, as well as the means to be used, including satellites. States were obliged to give full information regarding the equipment to be employed, including remote sensing devices operating in the atmosphere or beyond.

    This proposal encountered serious opposition. Although one of the alternate texts on marine scientific research agreed on at an informal meeting during the second session...


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