NOAA Paper Chart Concerns Clarified


Boaters expressed concern earlier this year that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) planned on ceasing the production of its more than 1,000 paper navigational charts and Raster Navigational Chart data. However, it turns out that these fears might have been a bit preemptive: BoatU.S. recently released a statement assuring boaters that paper charts are here to stay.

BoatU.S. conducted a closer reading of NOAA’s National Charting Plan, which boaters originally believed called for the cessation of paper charts. BoatU.S. said the plan actually gives no timeline for phasing out paper charts and believes this will not happen for decades.

“The way we access data today is different than how we accessed it 10 years ago, and we believe there’s a good chance it will be different 10 years from now,” said BoatUS Foundation Vice President Susan Shingledecker. “The National Charting Plan shows that NOAA is looking to evolve its products and use its resources efficiently to meet the changing needs of its users. Having nautical charts available in a range of formats is key to boating safety, and we don’t expect paper charts to go away anytime soon.”

Shingledecker also said the National Charting Plan calls for changes such as more frequent chart updates and improved integration of data from other agencies (such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard). BoatU.S. also submitted comments to NOAA on the importance of paper navigational charts.

Proponents of paper charts say that many boaters still rely on paper charts, especially when first learning how to navigate. They also say paper charts are an important safety backup in case of an emergency and electronic charts don’t work.

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