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Our Mission

The Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs (OPA) is a part of the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES). OPA is responsible for formulating and implementing U.S. policy on international issues concerning the ocean, the Arctic, and the Antarctic.

Key Topics

Law of the Sea

OPA is responsible for developing, coordinating, negotiating, and implementing U.S. foreign policy with respect to the law of the sea and oversees the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) Project. OPA also maintains a list of maritime boundaries between the U.S. and other nations.

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Maritime Security

OPA works with U.S. agencies and international and nongovernmental organizations to coordinate U.S. foreign policy on maritime security. It also examines coastal States’ maritime claims and/or boundaries and assess their consistency with international law.

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Marine Environment

OPA promotes U.S. economic, security, and environmental interests by advancing international efforts to conserve and sustainably use the ocean and its resources.

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Marine Science

OPA develops, coordinates, negotiates, and implements U.S. foreign policy with respect to marine science and research, including Marine Scientific Research Authorizations.

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Arctic & Antarctic

OPA develops and implements U.S. foreign policy as it relates to the Arctic region; and it also leads United States participation in the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum of the eight Arctic States. OPA also develops and coordinates U.S. policy affecting the Antarctic region, working to ensure that the Antarctic continues to be reserved for peace and science and to conserve marine life in the Southern Ocean.

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