Barbados will next week host an international meeting on hydrography and nautical cartography that is aimed at drawing attention to safety at sea and environmental protection.

Minister of International Transport ,George Hutson, will deliver the feature address to officially open the 10th Meso-American and Caribbean Sea Hydrographic Commission (MACHC)?? Meeting next Tuesday, November 3, at the Accra Beach Hotel.

The forum, which is being organised by the Barbados Port Authority, in conjunction with the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office, will run until Friday, November 6.

While??paper charts have provided the basis for safe navigation in the region for many years, the International Maritime Organisation recently mandated a phased??introduction of Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems on certain types of ships, including??passenger vessels and tankers, beginning in 2012.

Electronic Navigational Charts are needed by these??systems and the MACHC meeting is expected to discuss ways in which the region’s hydrographic offices??can??successfully meet this??significant challenge.

Representatives from the Caribbean region, as well as those from the United States of America, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, will be meeting to discuss coordination in maritime safety information, hydrographic surveying and nautical charting for safety of navigation and the protection of the environment.??

These areas are of particular importance to the region since over 30 percent of the world’s??crude oil passes through the Caribbean, and over 50 percent of the world’s cruise shipping industry has its home here. The large numbers of cruise vessels, often operating out of Bridgetown, contribute significantly??to the wealth of the region.

Additionally, the region experiences a hurricane season from June to November annually, and storms can and do leave a trail of devastation on islands and their coasts.??For these reasons, it is crucial that governments,??which have??signed up to the International Maritime Organisation’s Safety??of Life at Sea Convention, undertake hydrographic surveys??and arrange for the??production and maintenance of??all the data??necessary for safe navigation.

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