For a good way of working and living together at sea

- a joint initiative of GEOMAR, AWIIOWMPI-M as well as the shipping company Briese and the German Research Fleet Coordination Center.

The principle: The General Equal Treatment Act (AGG)

According to the General Equal Treatment Act (in German “Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz”, short “AGG”), employers have a duty to protect employees (section 12 AGG). According to this, employers are obliged to prevent sexual harassment. On the one hand, this can be done through information and prevention. On the other hand, after an incident, the future protection of the person concerned must be guaranteed through sanctions and other measures. By cooperating in the initiative "For a good way of working and living together at sea", the German maritime research institutions are fulfilling this obligation together - just as they cooperate on the research cruises.

Why do we need "For good way of working and living together at sea"?

The successful research cruises on German research vessels are based on the good and trustful cooperation between the ship´s crew and the visiting scientists. Therefore, it is important to point out that it was not specific incidents that led to the initiative, but the belief that prevention is the best protection in this respect. Flirting and approaches by mutual consent are of course still allowed.

However, it cannot be ruled out that undesirable situations may occur. Research expeditions are extreme situations in which a group of people is at sea for an extended period of time, working under high pressure to achieve their goals and, often under strenuous conditions. Moreover, many expeditions are characterized by small group sizes, reduced privacy due to spatial restrictions, stronger dependencies among colleagues, and less options to keep physical distance from one another. These circumstances may increase the possibility of unintentional and intentional sexual harassment on expeditions. The aim of the initiative is to provide a life raft for this: Established and clear structures should provide security and enable clarification of undesirable situations.

The initiative primarily pursues the goal of prevention. Just as it is a given for all participants to take part in ship safety courses and rescue equipment is available on every ship for emergency situations, this should also be the case in future in the event of sexualised violence.

The Purpose

The work requirements on board are high and in a short time unknown people have to become efficient teams that live and work together on a research vessel for a few weeks. This can lead to conflicts of various kinds. This is where the initiative:


  • creates an open space for clarification and assistance
  • and develops guidelines for action.

Cruise leaders and captains can use to these general rules as a guidance. Those affected as well as bystanders have the opportunity to seek discussion in a protected space. In the future, a conflict management system is to be established at the participating institutes, which can take up and accompany the incidents after the research cruise has ended, if necessary.


The initiative focuses on communication measures and training. The communication measures were developed according to the needs and organisational steps of a research cruise. The materials are available here and on the servers of each German research vessel. In addition, the brochure of the German federal anti-discrimination agency is provided. A short explanation of the purpose and aim of each communication measure is given below. The material is held in a neutral design to allow the application on every cruise.

Leaflet/Infoflyer for general information

The info flyer contains general information and rules for dealing with sexualised violence at sea. It should be sent to all participants by the ship's management/the cruise leader before the start of each cruise. It should also be available on the server of each research vessel.

Power Point presentation to communicate rules and to raise awareness

The presentation should be given by the cruise leader during the cruise planning and/or during the safety briefing by the crew at sea.

Contact sheet  on the blackboard as a low-threshold service

The contact sheet should be published on the notice board on the vessels. It provides contact information on whom to contact in the event of harassment. These contacts are at GEOMAR, the German Research Fleet Coordination Centre or independent assistance facilities.

First guide to action: Brochure of the Anti-Discrimination Agency (in German only)

The brochure of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency "What to do in the case of sexual harassment at the workplace?" provides concrete examples of how to deal with incidents.


Links to studies/surveys on the topic:


  • UniSAFE survey on gender-based violence in 46 universities and research institutions in Europe.
  • BKA study: Security and crime in Germany



  • Nikole Lorenz
    Team Gender Equality & Diversity
    Phone: +49-431 / 600 -2622