In efforts to aid in building the maritime capacity here, the United Kingdom (UK) Government has handed over in excess of $68 million in sonar equipment that will enable Guyana to carry out its own seabed mapping in the future.
The donation was done under the Commonwealth Marine Economies (CME) Programme, which aims to support the sustainable economic growth of Guyana by enabling the collection of accurate hydrographic and scientific data, as well as training to manage and develop the emerging marine economy.
With the country’s ocean floor having been unmapped before, the CME Programme in collaboration with the Guyana Government embark on a project to reverse this and in 2017, both the Demerara and Essequibo Rivers mouth were surveyed back 2017 with the assistance of experts from the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO).
That first phase of the project resulted in new nautical charts being produced and the data has since been requested by a number of agencies and consultancies working on new projects along the waterfront demonstrating the value of the data.
However, according to UKHO expert, Ian Davies, there is much more work to be done in Guyana’s coastal waters. In fact, he noted that stemming from consultations with various stakeholders in Guyana, it was identified that there was the possibility to develop a local surveying capacity.
To this end, using funding provided by the CME Programme, a modern multibeam system was purchased to be being installed on MT Aruka. Following its installation, personnel from MARAD and Guyana Lands and Survey Commission (GLSC) will undergo training so that Guyana have its own capability to undertake seabed mapping.
“UKHO will continue to provide advice and guidance to the survey team and the National Hydrographic Committee on the planning and conduct of surveys to ensure that data collected meets international standards and contributes not only to Safety of Navigation through updated charting but also provides information to be used across government to support the development and management of your coastal waters from fisheries to disaster management and climate change mitigation measures,” Davies stated.
Meanwhile, British High Commissioner to Guyana, Greg Quinn, in brief remarks outlined that sustainable use of the oceans is fast climbing to the top of the agenda. He went onto underscore the importance of the ‘blue economy’ and the marine realm, noting that it sustains life, regulates climate and weather patterns, and facilitates transport and trade.
On this note, he said that the multi-beam echo sounder, tide guage, sound velocity profiler and accompanying equipment will now allow Guyana to be equipped to conduct constant mapping in keeping with the changes in the dynamic environment such as the ocean.
Furthermore, the British Envoy took the opportunity to congratulate Guyana on becoming the 90th member of the International Hydrographic Organisation earlier this month.
“The equipment we are providing today will help Guyana meet its obligations of members of that august organization, High Commissioner Quinn stated.
On the other hand, Claudette Rogers, head of MARAD posited that the equipment will go a long way in assisting Guyana with compiling modern navigational charts of the priority areas, among other things. She noted that going forward, they are hopeful that the CME Programme will enable further capacity building within the maritime sector to enable Guyana to better understand and manage its marine estate.