A five-day conference aimed at helping UK Overseas Territories to develop capacity to support safe maritime trade has been organised and held by the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO)
The seminar, delivered as part of the Government’s Overseas Territories Seabed Mapping Programme, will focus on international regulations, with sessions on maritime safety information training, best practice governance and maritime law. This guidance, given by experts at both the UKHO and MCA, will help each of the 10 participating territories to comply with international obligations and share their own maritime safety information with ships operating in their waters.
For these ships, this information, including up-to-date bathymetry (seabed mapping data), navigational warnings and observations, is essential to safe navigation. And with the global ocean economy expected to double from $1.5 trillion in 2010 to $3 trillion in 2030, it is vital that these Overseas Territories develop their capability to not only support maritime safety, but to create opportunities to increase seaborne trade and tourism. This is particularly important for the many Overseas Territories where these sources of income make up a significant part of their GDP.
Advice and support given through the seminar will also complement additional work carried out by the UKHO in collecting marine geospatial data – including bathymetry, tidal and a range of seabed features– in each territory’s ocean environment. The data, which has been collected through 11 surveys in six territories, will not only support navigation through the creation of charts but give authorities the information they need to support disaster planning and resilience, coastal infrastructure and environmental protection.
Commenting on the seminar, Kerrie Howard, Hydrographic Programme Manager, UKHO, said, “This hydrographic seminar provides a unique opportunity to assemble an array of delegates from across the world, with a shared vision for using marine geospatial data to unlock safety, prosperity and sustainability. Work that has been undertaken as part of the Overseas Territories Seabed Mapping Programme to date has shown the benefits of marine geospatial data. The next step, in terms of implementation, will see tangible returns on hydrographic investment. In the short and medium term, we expect new charts to be created with a higher level of detail than ever before, ensuring safety for mariners and providing businesses within OTs to begin planning for increased import/exports and even infrastructure development and coastal protection.