Cartographers apply mapping technologies to map lands. Hydrographers apply mapping technologies to map the seas. It is obvious, that both have a lot in common. It is not only the technologies they are sharing but also the methodologies , the theories and the principles of design, cartographic modeling and media adequate representation techniques.
When looking at famous mariners and explorers like for instance Captain James Cook one can learn, that those mariners have not only managed on how to sail a ship successfully but have also been excellent cartographers. Cook’s maps of the St. Lawrence River System have been used for decades!
It is therefore not a big surprise that the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO), the international body of hydrographic offices all over the world being in charge on producing navigational charts and the International Cartographic Association have renewed their memorandum of understanding (MoU) recently. With the friendly support of the new elected president of IHO Captain Robert Ward the signing of the MoU was placed prominently at the opening of the Hydrographic Conference in Monaco 2012. Under personal patronage of Prince Albert II of Monaco and the EU Commissioner Maria Damanaki the MoU got a more then appropriate audience.
What is needed most to fill this cooperation with life? I see three major aspects: Hydrographers are eager to understand, if their usage of electronic displays leads to efficient cartographic communication processes. Furthermore, the topics of standardization, portrayal and SDI are of importance to both communities. And finally, both organizations are interested in contributing to capacity building and outreach programs. What’s the point in not having joined efforts in this respect when applicable, like e.g. in a small island where the capacity of mapping and hydrographic offices are restricted anyhow?
I would be most pleased, if ICA can become a home for the cartographers of the sea as well. And I would welcome it very much, if the ICA community comes up with ideas and actions on joined efforts.