Public-Private Partnership to Educate Recreational Boaters
As summer nears and some 12.5 million registered boaters hit the water, NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey is launching an effort to remind people about the importance of using up-to-date nautical charts. NOAA is a co-sponsor of the newly formed Alliance for Safe Navigation, a public-private partnership that raises awareness of safe boating practices and offers an instructional website to get people started.
“Recreational boaters, unlike commercial mariners, are not required to carry nautical charts,” explains Captain John Lowell, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. “We are sponsoring this new nationwide educational effort because we want people to understand that NOAA’s nautical charts are easy to find and easy to use. By using ‘Print on Demand’ paper charts or multi-functional electronic charts that are updated by NOAA cartographers, people have a better chance of avoiding potential groundings and other accidents.”
Charts can become outdated quickly because storms may alter seafloors, with shoals building up and water depths changing. NOAA conducts hydrographic surveys along U.S. coasts, measuring ocean depths and recording seafloor shifts. The agency uses the survey information to continually update nautical charts.
Joining NOAA in the Alliance for Safe Navigation are the Boat Owners Association of the United States (Boat U.S.), Jeppesen Marine, the United States Power Squadrons (USPS), OceanGrafix and the Sea Tow Foundation for Boating Safety and Education. The Alliance for Safe Navigation will encourage boaters to be aware of the significant and frequent changes that are occurring in their boating area.
As the nation’s official nautical chartmaker, NOAA maintains a suite of 2,000 navigation products that support safe recreational boating and marine transportation along coastal waterways and in the Great Lakes. NOAA and other alliance members provide many tools that give mariners the latest information, distributing a range of products such as print-on-demand paper charts and digital updates for electronic charts.
“The alliance members identified a widespread lack of awareness among boaters regarding the accuracy of their charts, whether electronic or paper,” explains David DeGree, president of OceanGrafix. “The truth is that inaccurate chart information can turn a safe and enjoyable cruise into a dangerous situation.”
NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources. Visit us at http://www.noaa.gov or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/noaa.lubchenco.
April 20, 2010