Priorities maximize NOAA effectiveness
NOAA provides nautical charts and other products for the safe navigation of maritime commerce in U.S. territorial waters and the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). This area contains 3.4 million square nautical miles, and extends 200 nautical miles offshore from the nation’s coastline.
Many areas portrayed on nautical charts have never been adequately surveyed because of the limitations of historical technology. The NOAA Hydrographic Survey Priorities (NHSP) is a snapshot of areas in greatest need of modern surveying.
Priorities reflect maritime needs
The NHSP identifies 500,000 square nautical miles of the EEZ as “navigationally significant.” The navigationally significant area is subdivided to establish “critical areas” and “priority areas” ranked on a scale of 1 through 5 (5 representing the lowest priority). Critical areas are highest priority.
NOAA updates the NHSP annually, using some of the following factors:
- shipping tonnage
- vintage of survey data
- requests from the marine community and local authorities
- dynamic changes of the seafloor
- proposed alternative uses in the area
Here are the current priorities outlined by location: