GIS - September 18, 2012: The 9th Conference of the Southern Africa and Islands Hydrographic Commission (SAIHC) kicked off this morning at the Pearle Beach Resort & Spa, Wolmar, Flic en Flac in the presence of the Minister of Housing and Lands, Dr Abu Kasenally, the President of the International Hydrographic Bureau, Captain Robert Ward, the Chairman of the SAIHC, Captain Abri Kampfer, and other eminent personalities.
Some 30 delegates are participating in the Conference. The two-day event provides a platform to discuss improving surveying and charting in the region, planning joint survey operations and capacity building in hydrography and cartography, among others.
In his opening statement, the Minister of Housing and Lands, Dr Abu Kasenally, highlighted the importance of hydrographic and bathymetric surveys in enhancing coastal zone management, marine resources exploitation, marine boundary delimitation, marine defence and security disaster management. He recalled the role of each State under the Convention of safety of life at sea, SOLAS, to ensure, among others, that hydrographic surveys are carried out and that nautical charts and other publications are available and up to date to provide safety navigation in its territorial waters.
According to Dr Kasenally, Mauritius is seeking further assistance for provision of relevant expertise and capacity building to reinforce the hydrographic unit set up at the Ministry in order to pave the way for the country to be self autonomous in the field of hydrography. Mauritius has as yet no capacity and expertise to produce charts, and rely on assistance and cooperation from other friendly countries namely India for hydrographic survey activities and production of navigational charts.
For his part, the President of the International Hydrographic Bureau, Captain Robert Ward, urged participants to seize the opportunity of the Conference to share ideas and solutions regarding problems and challenges faced by the different members of the SAIHC in the field of hydrography and cartography, to establish bilateral and regional collaboration, and seek technical advice and assistance from the International Hydrographic Bureau.
Topics featuring on the agenda of the SAIHC Conference include cooperation agreements; projects and regional capacity building management plan; presentation of national reports of member countries pertaining to hydrographic surveying, nautical charting, nautical publications and information status; marine and hydrographic spatial data infrastructures as well as addressing world wide navigation warning system deficiencies in the region.
The Southern African and Islands Hydrographic Commission (SAIHC), established in South Africa on 29 August 1996, is one of the 15 Regional Hydrographic Commissions operating under the aegis of the International Hydrographic Organisation to coordinate hydrographic activity and cooperation at regional level. The member countries of SAIHC are South Africa, Mozambique, Mauritius, United Kingdom, France and Norway and Associate Member States are Angola, Kenya, Comoros, Madagascar, Malawi, Namibia, Portugal, Seychelles and Tanzania. The current Chairman of SAIHC is Captain Abri Kampfer of South Africa and the Vice Chairman is Mr Abdool Nooranee Oozeer, Senior Chief Executive of the Ministry of Housing and Lands.