FIG Commission 4 - Hydrography

Work Plan 2003-2006

This work plan in .pdf-format.



Mr. Adam Greenland, Chairperson of Commission 4.

Terms of reference

  • Hydrographic surveying
  • Hydrographic education, training and CPD
  • Marine environment & CZM
  • Data processing and management
  • Nautical charting and bathymetric maps - analogue and digital, includes ENCs (Electronic Navigational Charts).

Mission Statement

  • Promote the aims and objectives of FIG to hydrographers through the active involvement of national delegates from member associations and other interested parties in the activities of the commission.
  • Foster closer links with all sister organisations currently active within the global hydrographic community.
  • Develop guidelines and standards that will assist hydrographers in the provision of their services.
  • Disseminate information relevant to the profession through participation in international meetings, conferences and committees.


Commission 4 is committed to achieving both the long term and immediate aims and objectives of the FIG organisation. The commission strategy over the next four years is aligned with that of the incoming Council and will include

  • Closer links and co-operation with other FIG Commissions, including joint working groups
  • The development of best practice guides in Hydrography
  • Actively support and participate in FIG regional events

Working Group 4.1 - Strategic Partnerships

Policy issues

  • Actively pursue closer links with sister organisations, especially IHO and THS
  • Increase co-operation between international surveying bodies (IHO/FIG/ICA Advisory Board)


  • Mr. Adam Kerr (United Kingdom), e-mail: Adam.J.Kerr[at]

Specific project(s)

This is a time of major change within the institutions and organisations of the global hydrographic community. Thus providing a unique opportunity to redefine both the informal and formal links with the specific aim of creating a lasting co-operation and a sharing of knowledge and resources.


Presentations at FIG working weeks and other hydrographic conferences.


Internal and external progress reports will be prepared, working towards the development of more formal agreements.




Commission delegates, commission officers and hydrographic surveyors world wide.

Working Group 4.2 - Vertical Reference Frame (A Joint Working Group with Commission 5)

Policy issues

  • Develop and promote the understanding and realisation of a vertical reference frame for use in hydrography.
  • Examine the demand for a seamless vertical reference frame for use in hydrography and marine navigation.
  • Develop an inventory of vertical reference surfaces used in hydrography in various countries of the international community.


  • Dr. Ahmed El-Rabbany, Canada (e-mail: rabbany[at]
  • Ms. Ruth Adams, United Kingdom (e-mail: ruth.adams[at]

Specific project(s)

  • Produce a white paper on current understanding of what is meant by a Vertical Reference Frame and how this relates to Hydrography and Navigation.
  • Work with Commission 5 and sister organisations to increase awareness and knowledge of the use of a vertical reference frame.
  • Collect information from the international communities on the activities related to the vertical reference surfaces in hydrography. Previous efforts by FIG, IHO and IAG shall be considered.


  • To participate in the FIG working weeks shown below.
  • To participate in THS activities.
  • To organize a workshop in one or more of the developing countries; from example the Arab Institute of Navigation in Egypt.


  • Technical papers presented by the members of the working group at the various workshops outlined above
  • Final report to be presented at the FIG Congress in 2006.


2002 - 2006.


Commission delegates / officers and hydrographic surveyors.

Working Group 4.3 - Administrating Marine Spaces (A Joint Working Group with Commission 7)

Policy Issues

  • To develop and promote Coastal Zone Management in hydrography to include Ocean Governance and Marine Cadastre.


  • Michael Sutherland (Canada), e-mail: michael.d.sutherland[at] (appointed by Commission 4)


Appointed by Commission 4:

  • David Neale (Trinidad)
  • Philip Collier (Australia)

Appointed by Commission 7:

  • Prof. Mike Barry (South Africa / University of Calgary, Canada)
  • Dr. Paul Munro-Faure (United Kingdom)
  • Ir. Ina Elema (Netherlands)
  • Prof. Ian Williamson (Australia) as liaison to UN

Specific project(s)

  • To encourage and co-ordinate future developments in CZM, including boundary delimitation, maritime jurisdiction and marine spatial data infrastructures.

Working Group 4.4 - Education and CPD (A Joint Working Group with Commission 2)

Policy issues

  • Hydrographic education & CPD.


  • Adam Greenland (United Kingdom), e-mail: agreenland[at] 

Specific project(s)

  • Education & CPD seminars at FIG Regional Strategic Meetings and Working Weeks.


As required.






Hydrographic surveyors.

Co-operation with Sister Associations

FIG/IHO Committees

Commission 4 currently represents FIG in two FIG/IHO standing committees: the Technical Assistance and Co-operation Co-ordination Committee (TACC) and the International Advisory Board (IAB) on Standards of Competence for Hydrographic Surveyors (jointly with IHO and ICA).


  1. FIG and IHO are in the process of developing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which is due to be completed by mid 2002.
  2. The IHB has just been re-elected - April 2002 - and Commission 4 is planning to meet with the newly elected Bureau to discuss how we co-operate more closely in the future.

In light of the proposed MOU between FIG and IHO and the lack of FIG activity on TACC, Commission 4 intends to withdraw from this standing committee.

The role of the International Advisory Board on Standards of Competence for Hydrographic Surveyors is

  • to develop and up-date international standards of competence for hydrographic surveyors
  • to review the academic programme of educational institutions that are seeking IHO accreditation of their hydrographic programmes.

Commission 4 delegates to the Advisory Board will participate actively in its work during the next four years. As and when required, Commission 4 will actively seek new members to represent FIG on the IAB.

Co-operation with the United Nations Agencies

Commission 4 will participate in the co-operation with the United Nations agencies on topics that are related to commission expertise (e.g. marine cadastre) and on guidance by the Council.

Cultures and Languages

Commissions endorse the underlying concept that respect for Cultural and Linguistic issues is of paramount importance and that Commissions will be sensitive to these issues in the way they work. This will be implemented by encouraging multilingual abstracts and presentations in general meetings and through the use of an appropriate regional language during regional meetings.

Other Activities

Maintain and develop the commission web page, linkages to other relevant home pages and new pages or other networks for special projects, to keep commission delegates, other FIG members, users of surveying services and the public involved in and informed about the work of the commission.

Calendar of Events

  • CHC2002, May - Toronto, Canada
  • Hydro 2002, October - Kiel, Germany
  • FIG Working Week
  • FIG Regional Meeting
  • 7th SE Asian Survey Congress, November - Hong Kong
  • FIG Working Week, Athens, Greece
  • FIG Regional Meeting
  • FIG Working Week 7-12 May, Cairo, Egypt
  • FIG Regional Meeting
  • FIG XXIII Congress, Munich, Germany

21 June 2002