A biologist from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary photographs the damage done to a coral reef from a boat that grounded on the reef. An elkhorn coral branch broken in the incident appears in the foreground. (Original Source: National Ocean Service Image Gallery, via NOAA)

Marine Scientific Research

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

The Ocean

OPA promotes science and diplomacy, improves maritime domain awareness, and safeguards the interests of the U.S. scientific community through the marine scientific research consent program.


Due to the COVID-19 situation, all applications for U.S. scientists to conduct marine scientific research in foreign waters must be submitted 6 or more months in advance of the start of research.  For the time being, applications submitted under this timeframe will not be accepted or processed.

For all planned marine scientific research related port calls, please refer to the State Department travel advisories which can be found online at: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/

If you are still planning to make a port call as part of your marine scientific research cruise, please contact MarineScience@state.gov.

  • Annually, OPA facilitates diplomatic marine scientific research consent for U.S. scientists to conduct more than 300 hundred research cruises in over 70 coastal states.
  • OPA manages the review process which issues consent to dozens of foreign scientists a year to conduct research in U.S. waters.

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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future