After 30 years of a successful and fruitful collaboration, the IAEA Environment Laboratories, the UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan and UNEP’s Regional Seas Programme, pledge to continue working together to assist Member States to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals on Oceans and Biodiversity.
This came during a ceremony held in Monaco during the 6th meeting of the Parties to ACCOBAMS from 21 to 23 november 2016, to mark the 30th anniversary of the addition of the Marine Environmental Studies Laboratory (MESL) to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Environment Laboratories.
MESL focuses on pollutants in the marine environment such as toxic trace elements (mercury, cadmium) and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), such as the pesticide DDT, which were widely used in the 1960s and 1970s and, due to their slow degradation rates, can remain in the ocean for decades.
The laboratory acts as the Regional Analytical Centre for the MED POL Programme, which is the marine pollution and control component of the Mediterranean Action Plan. Today the laboratory provides expertise to Member States, not only in the Mediterranean region but across the globe, to implement marine pollution monitoring programmes, to assess the quality of the marine environment and to improve seafood safety through the detection of contaminants.
MESL was set up by the Agency to assist Member States to monitor marine pollution as part of UNEP’s Regional Seas Programmes, with an initial focus on the Mediterranean. As the only marine laboratories in the UN system, the Environment Laboratories in Monaco were a natural choice to establish a hub for marine pollution research. Through this collaboration with UNEP, MESL has organized, to date, 54 training courses and 34 Proficiency Tests to strengthen pollution monitoring in the Mediterranean.
Since 1986, several recommended analytical methods for the determination of contaminants in marine samples have also been jointly developed by the IAEA’s Environment Laboratories in close cooperation with UNEP, IOC-UNESCO, FAO and WHO.