The three Cayman Islands are currently undergoing a seabed mapping exercise by international geo-data specialists. The visiting specialists are operating a Partenavia P68 aircraft, flying as low as around 1,000 ft above land and covering a survey area of 382km2 on Grand Cayman, 70km2 on Cayman Brac and 62km2 on Little Cayman. The exercise is expected to take five days’ worth of flying, with the first flight taking place on 12 November. The specialists are hoping to be done no later the 21 November, based on weather conditions.
Governor Martyn Roper said he was pleased that as part of the Cayman Islands/UK partnership agreement on climate change and the environment, the Cayman Islands would benefit from the UK Government’s Overseas Territories Seabed Mapping Programme.
“This £1m cross-OT project looks to reduce risk to the environment, life and vessels in the OTs’ waters, help support compliance with international maritime obligations and support development of blue economies,” he advised. “My thanks to the Ministry of District Administration and Lands for their continued cooperation with the UK Hydrographic Office who are taking this work forward here in the Cayman Islands.”
The majority of the available hydrographic map data for the Cayman Islands is over 140 years old. The UK Hydrological Office has committed to provide all OTs with up-to-date nautical charts for navigational purposes. The main purpose of the survey is to map the seabed to identify the topography – hills, valleys, outcroppings and other details that can be hazardous to shipping and the safety of life at seas.
Director of Lands and Survey, Jon Hall, further explained: “The data collected will be used by UKHO to create new, accurate Admiralty shipping navigation charts for Cayman waters. These will be available for purchase for commercial shipping and private boating purposes from authorised outlets approved by the UKHO. Lands and Survey and the Port Authority will hold copies for operational purposes.”
Hazard Management Cayman Islands will also have access for storm modelling purposes. HMCI’s access to spatially referenced data products, supports risk assessment for improved storm surge analysis.
The Premier and Minister for Sustainability and Climate Resiliency, Wayne Panton, added: “Given the existential climate related risk of sea-level rise across the Caribbean region, I am very delighted that HMCI under the Ministry of Sustainability of Climate Resiliency, will also benefit from the seabed mapping survey. This initiative further contributes to this Government’s efforts to prioritise action to tackle the climate crisis and will be an integral part of the overall Climate Change Risk Assessment previously announced.”
Minister for Lands, Julianna O’Connor-Connolly, said the seabed mapping project further equipped government to formulate plans on how this asset could be developed and used for the betterment of all residents of the Cayman Islands.