Congress passes ocean mapping measure
On Sept. 29 the U.S. House of Representatives passed the re-authorization and amendment of the Hydrographic Services Improvement Act, which authorizes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to acquire hydrographic data and hydrographic services for the conservation and management of U.S. coastal and ocean resources. The U.S. Senate passed the act on Sept. 26 and the act now goes to President Bush for his approval.
Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, one of the co-sponsors of the act in the Senate, said that the act will enable NOAA to contract, build and operate ships to acquire hydrographic data. The act also will enable NOAA to create and use hydrographic data for shipping lanes and ports, as well as to improve NOAA’s ability to provide data in response to natural or man-made disasters.
“Alaska has the largest hydrographic survey backlog in the entire United States, and some of our nautical charts still rely on soundings taken by Captain James Cook’s crew in 1778,” Stevens said. “This bill would promote safe and efficient marine navigation by authorizing NOAA to address backlogs in Alaska and throughout our nation. … It’s troublesome that our government has not surveyed much of our waters in well over 100 years, while other areas have never been mapped at all.”
- Alan Bailey