Hydrography is the measurement and description of the physical features and conditions of navigable waters and adjoining coastal areas, including oceans, rivers, and lakes.  Basic parameters observed during a hydrographic survey are time, geographic position, depth of water, and bottom type. 

A principal objective of hydrography is to provide for safe navigation and protection of the marine environment through the production of up-to-date nautical charts and related publications. In addition, hydrographic data is essential to a multitude of other activities such as global studies, for example, shoreline erosion and sediment transport studies; coastal construction; delimitation of maritime boundaries; environmental protection and pollution control; exploration and exploitation of marine resources, both living and nonliving; and development of marine geographic information systems (GIS).

International Hydrographic Organization

The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) is an intergovernmental consultative and technical organization that was established in 1921 to support safety of navigation and the protection of the marine environment.

The object of the Organization is to bring about:

  • The coordination of the activities of national hydrographic offices.
  • The greatest possible uniformity in nautical charts and documents.
  • The adoption of reliable and efficient methods of carrying out and exploiting hydrographic surveys.
  • The development of the sciences in the field of hydrography and the techniques employed in descriptive oceanography.

The official representative of each Member Government within the IHO is normally the national Hydrographer, or Director of Hydrography, who, together with their technical staff, meet at 5-yearly intervals in Monaco for an International Hydrographic Conference. The Conference reviews the progress achieved by the Organization through its committees, sub committees and working groups, and adopts the programmes to be pursued during the ensuing 5-year period. A Directing Committee of three senior hydrographers is elected to administer the work of the Organization during that time.

The Directing Committee, together with a small international staff of technical experts in hydrography and nautical cartography, makes up the International Hydrographic Bureau in Monaco. The IHB is the secretariat of the IHO, coordinating and promoting the IHO’s programmes and providing advice and assistance to Member States and others.

The Meso American-Caribbean Sea Hydrographic Commission 

The Meso American-Caribbean Sea Hydrographic Commission (MACHC) is an integral part of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO). The Commission promotes the aims of the IHO at the regional level in an advisory, scientific, and technical capacity. The MACHC endeavors to assist the Hydrographic Services, or institutions responsible for hydrography and navigation, of the Member countries.

Antigua and Barbuda is an Associate Member of the MACHC which meets annually. Further, it is common practice for additional business to be conducted by email or correspondence in between meetings.

United Kingdom Hydrographic Office

The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) produces a global range of electronic and paper nautical charts, publications and services for the Royal Navy and international mariner. They are a government Trading Fund and part of the UK Ministry of Defence.

The UKHO operates as a Trading Fund agency of the Ministry of Defence and also supports the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) in meeting international treaty obligations to provide hydrographic services for waters of UK national responsibility.

ADOMS maintains close links with the UKHO, its primary charting authority, with a Co-operation Arrangement between the two organizations signed in June 2011. The Arrangement allows for the free exchange of data to maintain products for the safe navigation of vessels in national waters thereby discharging one of Antigua and Barbuda’s key responsibilities under SOLAS V Chapter 9.