What are the objectives of the Environment Laboratories? We are charged with providing Member States with:
- Research for the protection of the marine environment from radioactive and non-radioactive pollution.
- Applications of nuclear & isotopic techniques for tracking oceanic processes, understanding marine ecosystems and assessing pollution impacts.
- Expertise, training & Reference Materials essential for Member States' commitment to the sustainable development and monitoring of their marine environments.
- Strategic partnerships with international organisations and other UN ocean agencies (IOC/UNESCO, UNEP, UNDP, IMO) to deliver the UN-WSSD programs on sustainable development of the ocean.
In recent years, the MEL has carried out worldwide radioactivity baseline studies (see below) which have covered the Atlantic, North & South Pacific, Indian, Arctic and Antarctic Oceans and the Mediterranean, Black and Caspian Seas. Regional environmental 'hotspots' such as the Gulf, the Irish, Kara and Caspian Seas, New Caledonia and the Mururoa and Fangataufa Atolls have also been investigated in detail. We have derived unique marine radioecological datasets which enable us to model and predict radionuclide pathways and risks through marine foodchains. Over the last year, MEL has cooperated with 52 Member States and our results have appeared (see publications list) as IAEA Reports and as research publications in international peer reviewed journals with worldwide citation. This, of course, is the cornerstone of reliable science audit. Member States need to know that the marine environmental research they support is of the best scientific quality, relevance and independence.
Our Programme is described under Programme. Mel is currently funded by Regular (3.6 M$) and extrabudgetary resources (0.6 M$). We will enhance our core function as the Agency's Marine Environmental Technical Arm. We shall continue our thrust in innovative analytical and oceanographic studies to provide high quality advice to Member States. In the long run we shall develop new nuclear and isotopic applications with intra-Departmental, international (UN, EU…) and private sector partners focusing on coastal zone management, pollutant cocktails, climate change, harmful algal blooms, sustainable aquaculture and marine protection for desalination.