Key Dates:

Call for Papers
Summer 2008

Abstract Submittal Deadline
3 October 2008

Authors Notified,
Student Travel Grant Recipients Notified
December 2008 

Schedule Posted
January 2009

25-30 January 2009

The Marine Environment Laboratories of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Monaco (IAEA-MEL)

Maria Betti,, Marine Environment Laboratories, 4 Quai Antoine 1er, Monaco, MC-98000, Monaco;

Reprinted from L&O Bulletin 17-3.

The IAEA Marine Environment Laboratories (IAEA-MEL) in Monaco will celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2011. Established in 1961 as part of the IAEA’s Department of Research and Isotopes, IAEA-MEL is the only marine laboratory within the United Nations system. For almost 50 years the Laboratory has been carrying out an IAEA-focused core program in promotion of nuclear and isotopic techniques to improve the understanding of marine radioactivity. IAEA-MEL also responds to regular requests for technical assistance from other UN agencies and programs, e.g. UNEP, IOC (UNESCO), FAO, WHO and WMO, as well as giving assistance and support to United Nations Member States through training courses and technical cooperation projects.

The Monaco Laboratory began as the International Laboratory of Marine Radioactivity. It was first located within the well-known Oceanographic Museum in Monaco. In 1988 the Laboratory occupied temporary premises in the football stadium, Stade Louis II and Aigue Marine. Its permanent home on the Port Hercule in Monaco were inaugurated in 1998. The new facilities considerably expanded and enhanced the quality of laboratory space. In 1991 the name of the Laboratory was changed to its present one: The Marine Environment Laboratories, a name which better reflects the laboratory’s raison d’être.

The laboratory is an example of both the environmental awareness and concern of the International Atomic Energy Agency as well as the marine scientific traditions and interests of the Principality of Monaco. One its primary goals is the transfer of modern scientific and industrial methods and knowledge from developed to developing countries. Thus, the primary aims of the IAEA-MEL are to help Member States understand, monitor and protect the marine environment and to co-ordinate technical aspects of international ocean protection, training and assistance programs.

The Laboratory has a significant practical training and equipment responsibility on behalf of United Nations Member States and is also an international center for analytical quality control services for radioactive and non-radioactive marine pollutants. The IAEA-MEL combines technical co-operation services (quality control services, equipment installation and maintenance, etc.) and highly applied research and development carried out for and with United Natiions Member States. The continuing strong commitment to the Laboratory by the Principality of Monaco is evidenced by its provision of new expanded premises in 1998.

The main objectives of the Marine Environment Laboratories are to provide Member States of the United Nations with:

In recent years, the MEL has carried out worldwide radioactivity baseline studies 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. MEL scientists participate in many international oceanographic programs and research projects. The lab has developed unique marine radio-ecological datasets which enable us to model and predict radionuclide pathways and risks through marine food chains. Recently, MEL has cooperated with 52 Member States and our results have appeared as IAEA Reports. Scientists working at MEL regularly publish standard research publications in international peer reviewed journals. Member States need to know that the marine environmental research they support is of the best scientific quality, relevance and independence.

Nowadays, MEL’s work has become focused on the applications of nuclear and related technologies to address problems associated with coastal zone management, climate change and ocean acidification impacts on marine biodiversity, impacts of contaminants on seafood safety and trade, and sustainable aquaculture.