World Hydrography Day

The RFNS Volasiga was given by the Korean government (Korea Hydrographic and Oceanographic Agency) to the Fiji Hydrographic Office to assist Fiji in hydrographic survey. Picture: SUPPLIED

Today is World Hydrography Day which coincides with the 100th Anniversary of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) which was formed on June 21, 1921 in Monaco as the International Hydrographic Bureau.

The theme for this year’s centennial celebration, “One hundred years of international co-operation in hydrography”, was chosen to highlight 100 years of progress in technological advancement in the field of hydrography since the humble inception of the formal body that oversaw hydrographic survey standards and good governance at the global, regional and national level.

Minister for Defence and National Security Inia Seruiratu said the IHO as an intergovernmental organisation worked alongside its members to ensure the world’s oceans and waterways were surveyed, charted and navigable.

He said as such, Fiji applauded the work and commitment of the IHO over ten decades that had assisted and co-ordinated mandatory hydrographic work with regional hydrographic bodies and national hydrographic offices in promoting approved technology tools for survey, nautical charting, and data collection.

“IHO’s support to our regional and national bodies such as the South West Pacific Hydrographic Commission (SWPHC) and the Fiji Hydrographic Office (FHO) has provided the required support to our maritime wellbeing and the safety to the sea lanes of communications,” he said.

Mr Seruiratu said IHO’s work had also on many fronts supported the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) mandate to regulate vessels to safely traverse our oceans and waterways for trade and recreation.

As a maritime nation, Mr Seruiratu said Fiji’s history had always connected with international hydrography ever since the era of the global British explorer Captain James Cook.

“Captain Cook’s initial surveys in Fiji in the late 1760s by means of hand held lead lines surveys to chart Fiji’s initial navigation charts remains evident in Fiji’s current navigation chart folio.

“The British explorer’s survey legacy in Fiji remains and the recognition by Fiji’s Colonial Government then of the vital role hydrography would play in Fiji, led to the formation of a United Nations funded FHO within the Marine Department in March, 1970.

“For over 50 years FHO has evolved. It became a member of IHO in 1982 and has a proud history of 39 years working alongside its parent organisation.

As an organisation, FHO has evolved strategically and operationally with good governance standards and conducting necessary hydrographic work such as the survey to mandate our maritime boundary and our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as a signatory to the United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea (UNLCOS) and obligations under the International Conventions on the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).

Mr Seruiratu said FHO, which was under the umbrella of the Republic of Fiji Navy (RFN), had also modernised and transformed over time from the conventional lead lines soundings to new technologies such as multi-beam sonars, multi-data management processor and print on demand capability.

“FHO continues to encourage and embrace innovation and technology in conducting survey, charting and data processing that has brought about the needed change to enhance the security of our oceans and our sea lanes of communications and trade.

“These advancements in technology have been particularly significant for mariners who now are able to position themselves with greater accuracy than that of the data on which older charts were based on. As such, the work of hydrography has played a huge role in Fiji’s development within the blue economy and the maritime industry.

“At this juncture, it would be prudent to mention the worthy support of our traditional defence partners the Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy for their invaluable contribution and recently the Indian Navy and the Peoples Liberation Army-Navy for their continuing hydrographic capacity building, technical support and survey capability rendered to the RFN and FHO.

Through our joint commitment and passion towards this field of ocean science, the FHO continues to work in partnership and in collaboration with international agencies such as the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Korean Hydrographic and Oceanographic Agency (KHOA), Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), and the Pacifi c Community (SPC).

These partnerships with our defence partners and international agencies not only highlight the importance of hydrography and our oceans but also the role hydrography plays in Fiji’s national security environment.

“As the minister responsible for defence and national security, it gives me great pride to acknowledge and commend the hard work, sacrifi ce and dedication of every hydrographer in Fiji and to the IHO for its milestone achievement in its centennial celebrations.

“A happy and memorable World Hydrography Day to all.”

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