The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) has begun to survey 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 the UKHO, said:
New data collected with 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.