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Coast Survey International Activities

International cooperation in the field of hydrography began with a Conference held in Washington in 1899, which led to the formation of a permanent intergovernmental body, the International Hydrographic Bureau (IHB), in 1921.  The United States was one of the countries that helped establish this body and has been a prominent and proactive Member State ever since. In 1970, an intergovernmental Convention entered into force which created the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), replacing the IHB.

The IHO is the principle international organization in which NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey participates. The worldwide maritime transportation system depends on nations issuing up-to-date charts compiled to common standards and this is accomplished through the IHO and participation in its Regional Hydrographic Commissions and numerous technical committees.

International Hydrographic Organization
The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) is an intergovernmental consultative and technical organization established in 1921 to support safe and environmentally-sound navigation through the provision of accurate and timely hydrographic information. The Director of OCS is the U.S. National Hydrographer and the official U.S. representative to the IHO. OCS is represented on many of the technical committees and working groups under the IHO. The U.S. participates in most of the 14 Regional Hydrographic Commissions under the IHO and OCS is a full member of the MesoAmerican Caribbean Sea Hydrographic Commission (MACHC), the U.S./Canada Hydrographic Commission (USCHC) and the Southwest Pacific Hydrographic Commission (SWPHC).

International Maritime Organization
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations established in 1948 to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping, including safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical-cooperation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping.  The most important treaty addressing maritime safety is the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention, which was an outgrowth of international concern and reaction to the Titanic disaster of 1912 and includes the regulations regarding the standards and use of navigational products. OCS participates in the IMO Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation (NAV).

U.S./Japan Cooperative Program in Natural Resources
The U.S./Japan Cooperative Program in Natural Resources (UJNR) was established in 1964 to promote conservation of marine and terrestrial resources through cooperation in applied science and technology. The UJNR consists of 18 panels: nine of these panels focus on marine science and technology, and nine address non-marine activities in the field of natural resources. The Director of OCS is the U.S. Chair of the Sea Bottom Surveys Panel.

World Hydrography Day- June 21st
In 2002, the International Hydrographic Organization and its Member States recognized the need to increase global awareness of the importance of hydrography to the safety of global marine transportation and protection of the marine environment. Therefore, “World Hydrography Day” was designated, to be celebrated every year on the 21st of June, the date the IHO was established in 1921.  On November 29, 2005, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution A/60/30, recognizing the establishment of World Hydrography Day. OCS helps coordinate the celebration of World Hydrography Day in the U.S.

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