Foreign Vessel Observer Scheme

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Under the United Nations Convention on Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Marine Institute have the authority to place Irish observers on foreign vessels conducting research surveys in Irish waters.  Such observers have official designation under UNCLOS and act as the representative of the State.  

In an effort to encourage Irish researchers to avail of this opportunity to observe and participate in high-level marine research, we manage the Foreign Vessel Observer Scheme.  The scheme provides financial support and practical assistance to those wishing to participate in foreign surveys in Irish waters.  

The role of the observer is to: 
  • Report on research activities carried out by the research vessel and to document this through the submission of a cruise summary report.
  • Ensure that the type of research work and the area under investigation conforms with the official notification documents submitted by that country to the Irish Government.  
  • Act as an official channel in the case of communications between the vessel and the Irish Government, should the need arise.
  • Take an active part in the survey through prior liaison with the chief scientist and to take the opportunity to learn as much as possible about marine research activities and methods.  
The benefits of partaking in the Observer Scheme are as follows:
  • The seagoing experience will be beneficial for the prospective marine scientists.  
  • The participation of Irish scientists on foreign research programmes can lead to co-operative projects. 
  • Where appropriate, all travel and subsistence expenses and a seagoing daily allowance will be paid. 
  • Prior seagoing research experience is essential.
  • Observers must be Irish citizens.
  • All observers must present valid up to date ENG 11 medical and Sea Survival certificates. 
  • Observers should have a background and active involvement in marine research. 

If you are interested in participating in any of the foreign marine scientific surveys in the role of Irish Observer, please contact Research Vessel Operations outlining your preferred survey with a CV attached. 

Click here to view the 2024 Foreign Research Surveys.  (Please note this list is updated regularly as we receive the survey notifications). 

Please note – all personal data and the information submitted for this application will be used solely for the purpose of this programme, after which it will be deleted in line with our General Data Protection Regulation Policy and data retention schedule.  All information will be treated with the strictest confidence and accessed only by those involved directly in the scheme.  Please review our Privacy Statement for further information.