The IHO Meso-American and Caribbean Hydrographic Commission (MACHC) and the IOC of UNESCO Sub-Commission for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (IOCARIBE) jointly hosted a four-part webinar series focused on how the region can contribute to the Nippon Foundation - GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project. During these webinars, stakeholders from around the region learned more about the Seabed 2030 Project, existing data in the region, how to identify data gaps, and how to access and contribute data. The webinar series was intended to promote communication and coordination, and custom tools and resources developed for stakeholders in this region were demonstrated. Participants were invited to contribute new information about existing data and planned surveys, and were encouraged to discuss technical challenges and work together to develop strategies to overcome them. Sessions were led by Ms. Cecilia Cortina of the Mexican Hydrographic Service, who serves as the MACHC Seabed 2030 Coordinator and is an Alumnus of the Nippon Foundation - GEBCO Postgraduate Training Program. Presentations were given by Dr. Vicki Ferrini, the Head of the Seabed 2030 Regional Center for the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and Ms. Jennifer Jencks, the Director of the IHO Data Center for Digital Bathymetry. Slides and audio recordings for each session are available on the MACHC website, and video recordings of presentations will be shared there soon.
Ms. Kathryn Ries, Chair of the MACHC, and Dr. Cesar Toro, Secretary of IOCARIBE of IOC UNESCO both participated in the webinars and offered comments to the group. Ms. Ries stated that "this map will provide a valuable product and common resource that all will benefit from using. A bathymetric grid of our region will inform and improve regional marine spatial planning, disaster response, environmental management and scientific investigation activities." Dr. Toro commented that "completion of this map was also identified as a priority during the UN Decade of Ocean Science Regional Workshop for the Western Tropical Atlantic and will contribute to all the Decade anticipated societal outcomes."
The webinar series culminated in the development of a draft strategy and workplan focused on how stakeholders can work together to create a complete baseline seabed map of the MACHC Region by 2030 that informs the sustainable, multi-purpose use of the regional ocean. The strategy is now under review by stakeholders and will be presented for adoption at the upcoming MACHC meeting to be held at Nov 30 - Dec 3, 2020 and by IOCARIBE members before the end of the year.