The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) plays an important role as an observer to a number of Regional Seas programmes.
The IAEA Marine Environment Laboratory (IAEA-MEL) in Monaco was established in 1961 as part of the IAEA's Department of Research and Isotopes and is the only marine laboratory within the UN system.
Its unique nature means that, besides carrying out an IAEA-focused core programme, IAEA-MEL is designed to respond to regular requests for technical assistance from other UN agencies and programmes, e.g. UNEP, IOC (UNESCO), FAO, WHO and WMO. Nevertheless, the promotion of nuclear and isotopic techniques and the improved understanding of marine radioactivity continue to be central to the Laboratory's work carried out in the framework of the IAEA's Programme H - Protection of The Marine a nd Terrestrial Environment, protection is the fundamental objective of IAEA-MEL’s modus operandi and its international function results in its involvement at the forefront of major world issues across a broad environmental spectrum.
The laboratory exists as a working example both of the high environmental awareness and concern of the International Atomic Energy Agency and of the marine scientific traditions and interests of the Principality of Monaco. It exemplifies the environmental care with which the world’s nuclear energy industry proceeds with its business, leading its competitors in ensuring understanding and control of its environmental consequences.
The Marine Environment Laboratory (IAEA/MEL) cooperates with the MAP through assisting Member States to understand, monitor and protect the marine environment and co-ordinates technical aspects of international ocean protection, training and assistance programmes, as well as technical supervision of the National Monitoring Programmes data quality assurance of chemical analyses through and inter-training, inter-calibration, scientific visits, and purchase of instruments and quality control.