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NOAA Hydrographic Survey Priorities
NOAA Hydrographic Survey Priorities, 2006 Edition

NOAA continually reviews the marine community’s needs for charting products and hydrographic surveys, and updates survey plans accordingly.

2012 NOAA Hydrographic Survey Priorities:

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:

East Coast

Gulf of Mexico

West Coast


Great Lakes

Puerto Rico & Virgin Islands

Hawaii & Pacific Islands

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