Senate Passes Senator Stevens' Bill to Improve Ocean Mapping in Alaska Waters
The United States Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Senator Dan Inouye (D-Hawaii) to enhance ocean navigation and safety in Alaska.
The Hydrographic Services Improvement Act allows the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to promulgate new standards for hydrographic data, develop nautical charts, and contract, build and operate ships to acquire hydrographic data.
"Alaska has the largest hydrographic survey backlog in the entire United States, and some of our nautical charts still rely on soundings taken by Captain James Cook's crew in 1778," said Senator Stevens. "This bill would promote safe and efficient marine navigation by authorizing NOAA to address backlogs in Alaska and throughout our nation."
The bill would strengthen NOAA's ability to create and utilize hydrographic data. This information is especially important to open shipping lanes or ports. The measure would also enhance NOAA's ability to provide data in response to natural or man-made disasters.
"Well over half of the nation's navigationally significant waters are off the coast of Alaska," added Senator Stevens. "It's troublesome that our government has not surveyed much of our waters in well over a hundred years, while other areas have never been mapped at all."