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Chapter 4.10
The East Asia Hydrographic Commission
Contributor: Tam Kwong-lim

The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) has encouraged the establishment of Regional Hydrographic Commissions to coordinate hydrographic activity and cooperation at the regional level.

The East Asia Hydrographic Commission (EAHC) was initially set up in 1971 by China, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, and Thailand. Later, Malaysia, Singapore and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also joined.[37]

Hong Kong participates in IHO activities and the EAHC as part of the China delegation.

The active role played by Hong Kong was first highlighted in its participation in the Strategic Planning Working Group of the IHO in 2002. HKHO then represented Mainland China in all the subsequent work of this working group. One such technical involvement was the presentation of a paper by the HKHO in the EAHC’s conference in Shanghai in November 2003 on “The Application of Digital Tidal Stream Atlas (DTSA) in the Port of Hong Kong”.[38]

In September 2004, the EAHC recognised that even though paper charts were produced by littoral Member States (MS) of the EAHC, and large-scale ENCs were produced by MSs to cover their own waters, particularly their major ports, official small-scale ENCs were not yet fully available, nor were they overlapping.

An earlier meeting in Thailand had agreed to form the South China Sea Electronic Navigational Chart Task Group (SET), which was tasked to produce small-scale ENCs on the basis that they were useful for navigation, and they would be made available to users at no charge, with the copyright resting with the EAHC itself.

A Hong Kong hydrographer was appointed as the SET Leader for this international cooperation project. He presented the SET’s Final Report on its activities in February 2005, which was then adopted by the EAHC. It was noted that the South China Sea Electronic Navigational Chart (SCS ENC) was the first joint EAHC project involving all MSs of the EAHC and that it was successfully completed under a tight schedule. The EAHC approved the distribution of the ENCs at the end of March 2005.[39]

To facilitate the release and distribution of the SCS ENCs, the EAHC approved the setting up of a website for users to download ENCs. The EAHC also assigned Hong Kong the role of SCS ENC Administrator, responsible for its updating and maintenance. A new website ( was launched in 2010 to incorporate all EAHC activities.

At the 5th EAHC ENC Task Group meeting held in Pattaya, Thailand in July 2010, the Chairman, Dr. Parry Oei, appreciated the cooperative spirit displayed by members in harmonising the overlapping areas of the charts, thereby enhancing navigational safety. He further paid tribute to the HKHO for undertaking the work without reservation since 2004. The meeting resolved to appoint Hong Kong as the East Asia ENC Coordinator for the production of small-scale ENCs covering the East Asia Region as another regional cooperation project.[40]

The exemplary work of the HKHO is not only a reflection of its dedication, but also a manifestation of its spirit as an exemplary world citizen. By working assiduously to advance the science of hydrography and to heighten the standards of navigational safety, its achievements make it a role model in the international arena. This is another fine example of the contributions of the Hong Kong Marine Department to facilitating the safe usage of the port of Hong Kong, meeting the needs of local marine industries, and enhancing safer navigation in the South China Sea and East Asia region in general.


  • [37]
    South China Sea Electronic Charts. East Asia Hydrographic Commission: Introduction,, accessed 14/01/2015.
  • [38]
    Minutes of 8th East Asia Hydrographic Commission (EAHC) Conference held in Shanghai, China.
  • [39]
    Minutes of Extraordinary Conference of the East Asia Hydrographic Commission held during 22-24 February 2005 Seoul, Republic of Korea.
  • [40]
    Minutes of the 5th EAHC ENC Task Group Meeting held in Pattaya Thailand from 19 to 21 July 2010.
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