FIG Commission 4 - Hydrography

Work Plan 2019-2022

Origional Work plan in .pdf format

Terms of reference

Support for all aspects of the Hydrographic Surveying profession including, but not limited to:

  • Promotion of hydrographic education, training, Continual Professional Development (CPD) and career pathways within the profession;
  • Protection of the marine environment;
  • Coastal Zone Management (CZM) including Ports & Harbours;
  • Offshore Construction Surveying;
  • Nautical charting for safe navigation/bathymetric mapping – analogue and digital including Electronic Navigational Charts;
  • Data processing and management of hydrographic data; • Review and update of standards and guidelines.

Mission Statement

Commission 4 is commited to:

  • Promoting 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;
  • Fostering closer links with all sister organisations currently active within the global hydrographic community;
  • Developing guidelines and standards that will assist hydrographers in the provision of their services;
  • Disseminating information relevant to the profession through participation in international meetings, conferences and committees;
  • Assisting international bodies such as the United Nations and the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) in the protection of the marine environment and promotion of safe navigation.


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

  • Support for the Hydrography profession internationally including development of best practice guides, certification pathways and advocacy;
  • Support the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) and associated United Nations programmes;
  • Cooperation with other FIG Commissions, including joint working groups;
  • Active support and participation in FIG regional events;
  • Cooperation with sister organisations and other appropriate bodies;
  • Cooperation with national surveying and mapping agencies; and,
  • Respond to directions from FIG Council to address emerging issues as required.

Working Groups

Working Group 4.1 - Standards and Guidelines for Hydrography

Policy issues

Assist in the development and recognition of standards of competency. Assist in the development of technical standards and guidelines. Assess the impact of international standards on current industry practice. Review standards from alternate reputable sources relevant to Hydrography.


Geoff Lawes, Australia
(taking over from Neil Hewitt, Australia, February 2021)


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Working Group 4.2 – Blue Growth & UN Sustainable Development Goal 14

Policy issues

The United Nations Development Programme Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14) advances the sustainable use and conservation of the oceans and requires effective strategies and management to combat adverse effects on the oceans through overfishing, growing ocean acidification and worsening coastal eutrophication.

The Blue Growth & SDG 14 work plan is based upon the ongoing work of Commission 4. It is a diverse and wide ranging topic but the primary focus for Working Group 4.2 is the development and promotion of measures to manage our oceans and seas in a sustainable manner based upon accurate data, sound environmental principles and good management practices.

The Hydrographic Surveyor has a key role in developing an understanding of our seas and oceans for the wider social benefits and Commission 4 aims to promote this role, the benefits and offer case studies of participation and support.


Gordon Johnston, United Kingdom


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Working Group 4.3 – Mapping the Plastic

Policy issues

The effects of plastic pollution on the Earth’s oceans are well documented, potentially catastrophic and increasing exponentially year on year. The UN Environment Programme has calculated that each year more than 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans, wreaking havoc on marine wildlife, fisheries and tourism, and costing at least $8 billion in damage to our marine ecosystems. Eighty per cent of all litter in our oceans is made of plastic. This is an intolerable but not insurmountable problem that needs immediate and far-reaching action to remedy.

Rivers have been identified as a significant contributor to and enabler of the plastic pollution problem. Working Group 4.3, a combined initiative of the FIG Young Surveyors Network and Commission 4, will focus on the dumping of plastics (and other waste) into major rivers, river systems and deltas at strategic locations around the world. Waste measurement in these water bodies using remote sensing, bathymetyric, current measurement and topographical surveys of plastic waste along the banks of rivers will enable a greater understanding of the quantum of plastic waste being transported to the oceans and inform the control and regulation of land use practices with an ultimate goal of eradicating the dumping of plastics into river systems.


Simon Ironside, New Zealand


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Working Group 4.4 – Marine Development and Administration

Policy issues

Assist in the development of institutional policy and framework. Assist in the development of conceptual and technical standards, guidelines and practice. Assist in the land and sea governance for a marine cadastre. Assist in the development of indigenous marine management systems.


Dr. Abdullah Hisam Omar, Malaysia


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