Congress has appointed money for the National and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) to dramatically increase its survey and charting program. Under the Appropriations bill
, NOAA’s navigation services will receive $120.2 million for Fiscal Year 2001, representing a total increase of $24 million over Fiscal Year 2001. The increased funding is in part due to the hard work of a coalition of maritime interests including AWO.
A section of the bill which specifically drew focused attention from AWO and its members is the appropriation of $4.3 million for Electronic Navigational Charts
(ENC). This allows NOAA to move forward with what the agency describes as “the next-generation navigational tool.” This is the first time there has been specific funding provided by Congress for ENC development. A news release from NOAA indicates that “Of this amount, $900,000 will build ENCs in Alaska. As a whole, these funds will enable NOAA to complete its initial goal of ENC coverage for the nation’s 40 major ports by the end of the fiscal year. In addition, NOAA plans to facilitate the utility of the ENC for related marine geographic information systems (GIS) development as part of its contribution to homeland security.”
NOAA officials have also indicated to AWO that the increase in funding will allow the agency to begin producing in funding will allow the agency to bein producing electronic charts of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway
, beginning with an electronic chart from New Orleans to Houston Ship Channel. Aerial surveys of the canal are being done now and the chart should be produced in the coming year.
Congress also set aside a record $27 million for NOAA to address its backlog of surveys.
Source: AWO Letter