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In brief

Prince Albert II announces quarter of world’s oceans mapped

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Prince Albert II spoke at the opening session of the Assembly, Member State and Industry Exhibition - © Communication Department / Manuel Vitali

The data is very important if we are to have a better understanding of climate change, marine habitats, pollutant movement and the spread of tsunami waves.

From 1 to 5 May, Monaco is hosting the Assembly of the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO). Representatives of the 98 Member States came to the Principality for the event, which is held every three years.

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The aim is to enable these countries to meet and exchange information on new developments in technical norms and sea mapping, and to make decisions on how to pursue their activities. This year’s topics include the future of charts and the next steps in the transition to digital data systems.

The different countries must also reach a consensus on the recognition of the existence and limits of the Southern Ocean, around Antarctica. And with good reason: since its official recognition in 1929, there have been decades of disputes over the Southern Ocean’s geographical boundaries. The Assembly on Monegasque soil should make it possible to debate and reach a final agreement.

Prince Albert II attended the opening session on May 2, alongside Dr Kerri-Ann Jones, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD. The Sovereign announced that a quarter of all the oceans have now been mapped. Specifically, 5.4 million square kilometres – twice the size of Argentina – have been added to the final map.

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The Sovereign with Dr Kerri-Ann Jones (on the right of the photo) on 2 May – © Communication Department / Manuel Vitali

The data is very important if we are to have a better understanding of climate change, marine habitats, pollutant movement and the spread of tsunami waves. Accurate ocean mapping is therefore more important than ever.

2023 is also a special year, as it marks both the centenary of the International Hydrographic Review and the 120th anniversary of the GEBCO programme, a global bathymetric chart of the oceans, initiated in 1903 by none other than Prince Albert I.

On Friday 5 May, the Member States will elect the next Secretary General and a Director: two key positions that will determine the IHO’s direction and activities.