Minister of International Transport, George Hutson (centre) chats with from left Brazilian Director of Hydrography and Navigation , Luiz Fernando Palmer Fonseca,??and??Deputy National Hydrographer with the United Kingdom’s Hydrographic Office, Captain Vaughan Nail??during the MACHC Meeting.

In order to fully exploit the region’s ocean resources, regional Governments must seize every opportunity to acquire more knowledge about the sea and the sea bed.

This assertion has come from Minister of International Transport, George Hutson, who said hydrography, which entails the survey and mapping of territorial seas and Exclusive Economic Zones to ensure safe passage of ships, would become even more critical for Barbados, within the context of oil and gas exploration.

He was speaking yesterday at the opening of the 10th Meso American and Caribbean Sea Hydrographic Commission (MACHC) Meeting at the Accra Beach Hotel, which represented the first of such meetings in the Eastern Caribbean.

Describing Barbados’ decision to host the four-day high-level talks as indicative of the "region coming of age", Minister Hutson contended: "Barbados recognises the important role that hydrography plays in the economic development of Coastal States.

"The sea is one of our major resources providing economic well-being, food, minerals and a means of coastal and international transportation. In developing countries such as Barbados and others in the Caribbean, the resources and technical skills necessary to effectively manage our ocean resources are often not available."

Minister Hutson said?? Barbados was "deeply aware" of the primary focus of the International Hydrographic Organisation and the MACHC, namely to build local capacity?? to undertake all hydrographic functions mandated by the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).?? He further observed that at the level of the island’s National Hydrographic Committee, it has been recognised that achieving total self-reliance "is a long-term, rather than a short, or medium term goal.

"As an island nation, it is very important to Barbados that charts of its waters are continuously maintained in an up-to-date manner, thus involvement in this regional commission is vital," he maintained.

Minister Hutson told the meeting, that Barbados had traditionally employed hydrographic technologies as part of its coastal engineering solutions for coastal stabilisation, enhancement and where necessary, coastal defence works.

In addressing the conference, Captain Hugo Gorziglia of the International Hydrographic Bureau (IHB), said some 14 regional Hydrographic Bureaus had been established in the region, to provide technical assistance to national committees.

Charging that?? there is not one activity that takes place in the sea that does not benefit from?? hydrography,?? Captian Gorziglia?? stressed that the maritime, fishing, tourism, defence, coastal zone management and other sectors of?? great socio-economic benefit could not?? be successful?? without?? up-to-date hydrographic information.

In this regard, the IHB representative stressed that hydrography must be considered a national priority and must be so treated by national Governments.

The meeting ends this Friday, November 6.

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