The Baltic Sea Hydrographic Commission (BSHC) of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) initiated a re-survey of the major shipping routes and established the Monitoring Working Group (MWG).
In 2002, the working group developed a harmonised re-surveying scheme based on the following criteria:
- The scheme focuses on hydrographic surveying. Other aspects such as mine searching or environmental problems are non included.
- All major shipping routes and ports including their approaches have to be re-surveyed if the available data do not comply with IHO standard S-44.
- Major shipping routes and ports are defined mainly by the volumes of dangerous goods transported and by the number of passengers.
- As a general guideline, the width of the routes in coastal areas should be at least two nautical miles, and six nautical miles in other areas.
- Each country is responsible for its interpretation of the survey data quality and compliance of its data with IHO S-44.
The Monitoring Working Group consists of representatives of all Baltic Sea States, including Latvia and Lithuania which are not yet IHO members. It determined the routes to be surveyed (see graph) and subdivided them into sections.
Survey quality must conform to the "Order 1" standard of Special Publication No. 44 (S-44). The survey activities are monitored by the working group, which has established a survey plan according to which most countries should essentially complete their survey by 2008. The Hydrographic Office of Sweden is collecting the metadata in a database. The status of work is reported annually to the Helsinki Commission. Details are agreed bilaterally between neighbouring states. The survey data will be integrated
immediately into both analogue and digital charts.
By this unique, co-ordinated effort covering an entire sea area, a harmonised repeat survey conforming to a high quality standard will be ensured.
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