The Civil Hydrography Programme | Overview
The MCA manages a multi-million pound budget to systematically survey the waters around the U.K. This programme is known as the "Civil Hydrography Programme".
Under the programme, commercial contracts are let regularly to ensure accurate hydrographic information is gathered for updating the nation's nautical charts and publications. Currently, three survey workstreams drive data acquisition under the CHP:
- Shallow water: predominantly 0 to 40m.
- Shallow to medium water: 0 to 200m.
- Routine resurvey: navigationally critical areas with mobile seabed.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency work in close cooperation with the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office who assist us in discharging the United Kingdom's national hydrographic obligations under the International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea.
Survey areas are prioritised using a contemporary risk analysis methodology. To view which areas have been surveyed by the MCA since 2004, click on the following link to download an ESRI "Shape File" of CHP survey areas:
CHP surveys (1.1Mb, updated March 2013)
The Limits of MCA Hydrographic Survey Responsibility
In 1997, the MCA contracted the Department of Maritime Studies and International Transport (University of Wales) to undertake a study to determine the limits of the MCA's hydrographic survey responsibilities.
UK Civil Hydrographic Area (shown in red)
The report took account of the nature of the marine environment in UK waters, its use and relationships among environmental, use and survey factors.
The report authors consulted with 22 organisations from a variety of regions, activities and designations.
The study put forward a textual description, together with a small-scale chart, defining the limits of the MCA's hydrographic survey responsibilities. This has now been further refined by the MCA to include limits defined in an international agreement (signed in 1999) between the UK, France, Holland and Belgium in the vicinity of the Dover Strait (see above chart).
It should also be noted that the "Civil Hydrography Programme" (administered by the MCA) does not cover hydrographic surveying activities within Port Authority limits.
The definitive outer limits of the UK Civil Hydrographic Area can be downloaded in ESRI "Shape File" format by clicking on the following link:
UK Civil Hydrographic Area (0.7Mb)
The Civil Hydrography Programme: Overview | Routine resurvey | Survey specifications | Propose a hydrographic survey | Wrecks
Date Sharing & Availablity: CHP data | Pan-Government hydrographic data | Share your hydrographic data | Guidelines for offshore developers
Projects & Partnerships: INIS Hydro | Dorset Integrated Survey Project (DORIS) | Joint Irish Bathymetric Survey (JIBS) | Strategic Coastal Monitoring Programmes
Events & Meetings: Civil Hydrography Working Group (CHWG) | Civil Hydrography Annual Seminar (CHAS)