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Friday, November 23, 2018 

Jamaica has begun updating hydrographic charts in key maritime developmental areas to improve coastal navigation, marine infrastructure works and other maritime activities, with assistance from the UK Government.

United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) has conducted hydrographic surveys of Kingston Harbour and its Approaches and Portland Bight as part of the UK Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office initiative – the Commonwealth Marine Economics Programme (CMEP).

Welcoming the data, MAJ Director General, Rear Admiral (Ret’d) Peter Brady, who is also chair of Jamaica’s National Hydrographic Committee – a sub-committee of the National Council on Ocean and Coastal Zone Management of Jamaica – said: “Shipping around Jamaica has increased over the years and the surveys of our nautical charts are very old. Ships have gotten bigger, their drafts have gotten deeper and, in order to ensure that Jamaica has safe waters, we need to know what the current depths and configurations of the seabed are, around the coast of Jamaica and not just at the major ports and channels.  This latest survey conducted, will bring navigation charts up to date utilising the most modern surveying methods. This information will give navigators of ships more confidence in coming in to Jamaican waters.”

As well as complying with the Jamaican government’s obligations under chapter five of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention, updated charts will provide other benefits including ensuring there are no undocumented wrecks or other materials on Jamaica’s seabed, thus reducing the risk of ship wrecks or damage . Updated charts will also provide for effective emergency and disaster response planning, development of shoreline management plans, and will benefit local fishermen.

UKHO recently conducted a workshop in Kingston (pictured) to officially hand-over the data from the hydrographic surveys, prior to its transposing to nautical charts which will be done in the UK . The National Lands Agency in Jamaica will be the repository of this hydrographic data. The UKHO has left equipment with Jamaica so the country can undertake its own hydrographic surveys.

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