This month the UK Hydrographic Office will be conducting seabed mapping surveys to support safe maritime trade and the development of a sustainable blue economy.
Almost all activity in our oceans, from shipping to monitoring delicate marine environments, depend on accurate seabed mapping data that illustrates the shape and movement of natural underwater features. So, for coastal communities like the Falkland Islands, the collection of this data is vital to supporting safe trade, sustainable economic growth and protecting their communities from the effects of climate change.
As part of the UK government’s Overseas Seabed Mapping Program, the UKHO will lead the collection of this data through vessel-based seabed mapping surveys of the Falkland Islands coastal waters. Data from these surveys will initially be used to update nautical charts to support safe and efficient navigation for ships using the Falkland Islands waters. With the expected increase in expedition cruises within the waters around the Falklands it is important that safe passage is achieved to the sites visited to minimize impact and reduce risk of an incident occurring that impact upon not only human life but could have environmental consequences. Further data sets, such as seabed type, will be used to help the Directorate of Natural Resources preserve the marine environment and sustainably harness economic resources.
Kerrie Howard, Hydrographic Program Manager at UKHO welcomed the survey: “A good understanding of the ocean is increasingly important in continuing to help island territories realize their economic potential. As Primary Charting Authority for the Falkland Islands, this program gives UKHO the chance to survey the waters surrounding the islands and ensure that the territory working towards fulfilling its international maritime safety obligations under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention”.
Surveys will be conducted from November through to the end of January using personnel from the UK Hydrographic Office and their contractor EGS. The team are using local Sullivan Shipping vessel John Davis as the survey platform, along with two support vessels. This work is supported by the UK government’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, which has been established to build peace and stability around the world.