Improving maritime safety in the Pacific

LINZ’s National Hydrographic Office is involved in a number of programmes for improving safety in the South Pacific.

These include carrying out hydrographic risk assessments to provide Pacific countries with data on where they have the greatest need for safety improvements, providing training in the region, as well as producing nautical charts.

Hydrographic risk assessments

This includes providing hydrographic risk assessments for Vanuatu, Tonga and the Cook Islands. These assessments result in maps highlighting shipping hazards so Pacific countries can decide where to prioritise maritime safety improvements. The Risk Assessment uses an internationally recognised methodology to combine safety of life, cultural, environmental, and economic development factors as well as the age and quality of existing charts. Results are based on shipping routes obtained from satellite tracking of large vessels. Governments in these countries and development partners can then take steps to mitigate risks by improving charts, warnings and aids to mariners in the areas identified as high risk by the assessments. A pilot project in Vanuatu – which has an established cruise industry – showed this work meant strong value for money in foreign aid spending on safety.

Vanuatu risk assessment results

Pacific regional hydrography programme hydrographic risk assessment for Vanuatu

Results are also available on the International Hydrographic Organisation website

Electronic charts

As part of the Pacific Maritime Safety Programme, LINZ has also provided full sets of electronic charts to Niue, Tonga, Samoa, the Cook Islands and Tokelau. Until then these areas relied on paper charts only. Changes in international maritime rules means electronic charts are essential for shipping to continue in the region. This initiative is also a part of the Pacific Maritime Safety Programme, and has received funding support from the New Zealand Aid Programme.

Building capacity

LINZ is sharing its expertise to help Pacific countries improve their maritime safety. In June 2014 it trained representatives from a number of countries in hydrographic skills, nautical cartography and governance. In August 2014, it is also training representatives from 13 Pacific countries in how to coordinate and issue safety warnings through the world wide navigational warning service to ensure mariners are aware of hazards at sea.

This work is funded by the International Hydrographic Organisation, and carried out by LINZ staff.