Research activities

Research activities may relate to the exploration of the seabed or the prospecting of soil resources.

Anyone wishing to carry out research activities in the area of the continental shelf that do not relate to mineral resources, e.g. for exploring the seabed to determine a route for a cable or pipeline, must obtain prior approval from the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH). Other research activities, i.e. those involving the exploration of soil resources, are approved by the responsible mining authority. For the continental shelf of the North Sea, the State Office for Mining, Energy and Geology in Clausthal-Zellerfeld is responsible and for the continental shelf of the Baltic Sea, it is the Mining Authority in Stralsund.

Approval regime: apply for approval 6 weeks before the start of the project

The legal basis for the granting of a research permit by the BSH is Sections 132 and 133 of the Federal Mining Act. It should be noted that the written application must be submitted at least 6 weeks before the start of the intended research activity.

In the case of scientific research trips by foreign institutions that do not serve the purpose of determining a route for a cable or pipeline, a longer lead time must be chosen because the application must be submitted to the BSH via the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport. Other applications are submitted directly to the BSH.

The application must be accompanied by the following information:

  • The area in which the research activity is to be carried out must be precisely described in a site plan (map of the sea area),
  • Information on the research programme and its technical implementation (in particular the equipment used),
  • Details of the research vehicle or vehicles (distinguishing signal),
  • Beginning and probable end of the research activity.

The BSH examines whether there are overriding public interests, in particular whether the intended research activity would more than inevitably incurred by the circumstances have an impact on

  • the operation and effectiveness of navigation facilities and signs,
  • the use of waterways and airspace, navigation, fishing and flora and fauna in an unacceptable manner, or
  • the laying, maintenance and operation of underwater cables and pipelines as well as oceanographic or other scientific research
  • furthermore, the research activity must not result in any pollution of the sea, and the safety of the Federal Republic of Germany must not be endangered.

Enforcement procedure

The research activities are supervised by the BSH and are to be prohibited in the absence of approval.