The UK Hydrographic Service supports maritime trade and economic growth in Belize


UKHO conducts seabed mapping studies in Belize to support marine environmental management and economic development

Press Release – The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) has begun surveying the seabed in Belize’s southern waters as part of the UK Government’s Commonwealth Marine Economies (CME) programme.

Almost all activity in our oceans, from shipping to monitoring delicate marine environments, depends on accurate seafloor mapping data that illustrates the shape and movement of natural underwater features. For coastal countries like Belize, collecting this data is critical to supporting sustainable economic growth and protecting communities from the effects of climate change.

Following a stakeholder meeting with the Belize Ports Authority and the wider Belizean government in late 2019, it was agreed that the country’s southern waters would be surveyed using satellite-derived bathymetry ( bathroom). SDB uses satellites to capture high resolution images which can then be processed to calculate the depth of the seabed up to 40 meters, depending on water clarity. This method quickly captures large areas and has no negative impact on ecosystems and marine life. Data collection and processing is expected to take several weeks and will focus on areas south of Belize City.

Information from the survey will be used to update nautical charts of the area if necessary, thereby reducing navigational risks and improving the safety of life at sea. Information generated by the SDB can also be used to plan and prioritize more detailed studies of Belizean waters to meet government requirements.

Data from the survey will be provided to the Belizean government and can support a range of environmental and scientific applications, including improved management of coastal protection initiatives and the country’s rich marine environment. This includes the sustainable management of fisheries and other marine resources.

Ian Davies, International Hydrographic Portfolio Manager at UKHO, noted:

“The new data collected through funding from the Commonwealth Marine Economies Program will help Belize develop and manage its coastal waters, unlocking benefits for the nation for many years to come. The data collected from this SDB survey will not only be used to verify navigational hazards, but will also support other disciplines such as fisheries and coastal zone management, environmental planning and maritime safety. Equally importantly, it will also contribute to the continued development of policies that protect the country’s marine environment and the sustainable use of Belize’s natural resources.”

About the Commonwealth Marine Economies Program

Funded by the UK Government’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) and led by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the GCE program supports 17 Commonwealth Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Caribbean and the Pacific to identify the potential of, and develop their marine economies in a sustainable, resilient and integrated manner. The program promotes growth, innovation, jobs and investment while preserving the health of seas and ecosystems. In partnership with SIDS governments, the program will develop and implement national maritime economy plans to ensure the program leaves a lasting legacy.

The program provides world-leading expertise in marine science through its main delivery partners: the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO), the Center for Environmental, Fisheries and aquaculture (Cefas) and the National Center for Oceanography (NOC); and an Atkins team with a mix of technical, institutional and regional experience work in partnership with SIDS governments to support the development of tailored maritime economy plans tailored to each country’s national needs and priorities.

You can find out more about the CME program here:

You can also read more about CME program activities in Belize here:

About the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO)

The UKHO is a leading center for hydrography, providing marine geospatial data to inform maritime decisions. We work with a wide range of data providers and partners to support shipping, safety, security and maritime development in the UK and around the world.

We make location-based information available through ADMIRALTY Maritime Data Solutions, our world-leading range of maps, publications and custom datasets. Our use of marine data and technology, combined with our expertise, allows us to continue to innovate and offer a wider range of solutions.

We obtain, process and provide access to geolocated information, ranging from the seabed to the surface. This enables our partner organizations to make critical maritime decisions – informing the sustainable use and management of the marine environment and supporting the development of the blue economy.


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