December 2009

New manual for maritime safety information

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WMO, along with the International Maritime Organization and the International Hydrographic Organization, have jointly released a new edition of a Manual on Maritime Safety Information. Superseding the manual first issued back in 1996 and revised in 2003, it will come into force on 1 January 2011, after required actions by Member states. This new edition provides a practical guide for anyone who is concerned with drafting navigational warnings or with the issuance of meteorological forecasts and warnings under the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System. Such information is even more important with the increasing use of polar maritime routes.

For the mariner to easily assimilate and understand the information received, and to take appropriate actions to ensure safety on board, it is essential that maritime information be presented in a timely and consistent way. The Manual is therefore designed to provide practical guidance to those issuing navigation and meteorological warnings on how to present the information.

Safety of life at sea depends on meteorological forecasts and navigational warnings. The Manual will help prevent casualties at sea by improving the quality of information and warnings.

The world oceans and seas have been divided into areas for which National Meteorological and Hydrological Services assume responsibility for preparing and issuing meteorological warnings as well as weather and sea bulletins. The efficiency and effectiveness of the information provided are monitored through the feedback of marine users.

The Manual provides advice on the recently designated “Arctic” Metareas and Navareas, the new area in the Arctic, which Canada, Norway and the Russian Federation have accepted responsibility for the promulgation of navigation and meteorological warnings in the near future. The increase in shipping in that region is directly related to changes in the ice coverage, enabling the opening of the Northern Sea route.

The Manual on Maritime Safety Information (73 pages – English only) is available online.

More information is also available online about safety at sea within the framework of the WMO Marine Broadcast System for the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System.

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