​The Department of Lands and Surveys at the “Thalassa 2021: SEA to Live – Experience SHIPPING” festival


Cyprus, according to history, was emerged from the sea. Since ancient times until today, the island’s fate was closely linked to the sea surrounding it. Besides, the area of the sea surrounding Cyprus is 11 times greater than the land coverage of the island itself, while the merchant fleet of the island is positioned as one of the top 15 of the world. On a closer look at the seabed of Cyprus, it can be observed that shipping and trade are closely linked to the history of the island. Cypriot seafarers travelled even when safety was not guaranteed. Nowadays, due to travelling being an integral part of our lives, the need of safe traveling is imperative. Knowledge of the Sea, reduces the amount of dangers the seafarer may come across to in such an unpredictable and unknown marine environment. The Hydrographic Science contributes to this knowledge through survey and mapping of marine space.

In Cyprus, there was no governmental management structure dealing with hydrography. The Department of Lands and Surveys (DLS), was called in to fill that gap, mainly based on its great experience on issues related to geodesy, surveying and cartography. Thus, in 2014, Law 96 (I) Managing and Conducting of Hydrographic Activities and Production of Nautical Charts was ratified, according to which DLS has a duty of processing and evaluating information and data in the manner most suitable for the purpose of aiding safety to seafarers.

In 2006, DLS established a Hydrographic Section to meet multiple needs. One of its first achievements was the development of the Hydrographic Database, contributing to signing of agreements with Egypt (2003), Lebanon (2007) and Israel (2010), regarding the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Then, DLS invested on mapping the coastal sea zone. The mapping was performed on various phases (2012-2018), as a result of collaboration with the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research (DFMR) taking advantage of opportunities from Interreg VA Greece- Cyprus territorial cooperation program which is co-funded by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund [ERDF]) and by National Resources of Greece and Cyprus (THAL-HOR and THAL-HOR2projects), and also the ‘Thalassa’ Funds. So far, the coastal zone, expanding from 0 to 250m depth, has been surveyed and mapped. In 2017, a sea-level monitoring network (Pytheas) was established, with stations positioned in Paralimni, Larnaka, Pafos and Pomos. Recently, DLS has acquired its own mapping system within the framework of the co-funded across border cooperation between Greece and Cyprus (THAL-HOR2 Project), which provides the ability of mapping waters of up to 500m depth. The system was installed on ‘Alkyon’, a vessel owned by DFMR. The Hydrographic Database is open to the public through DLS’ Geo-portal (http://portal.dls.moi.gov.cy), while serving the needs of Marine Spatial Planning.

Cyprus participating in the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) also played a key role in the evolvement of Hydrography in Cyprus. IHO, with the contribution of all Member States, is the body responsible for determining the standards for the compilation of nautical charts and other publications, and the minimum standards to be achieved based on the intended use on publications, with a main objective of the safety of seafarers. Our participation in the various actions of IHO, provides us with knowledge, experiences and good practices for the best possible management of challenges.

DLS cooperates with the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office Admiralty on issuing nautical charts and aids, thus providing the means for mariners. The Nautical Chart is a tool of utmost importance for the safety of navigation. It is the mean, which will allow the mariner to reach its destination safely. A mistake on a chart may be harmful or even fatal. The uniqueness of nautical charts is mainly focused on the necessity of immediate updating. The mariner needs to be aware of changes in the marine environment eg. installation of a lighthouse, buoy, fish farm, cancellation of a lighthouse etc. The immediate updating of nautical charts is one of the priorities of DLS. For this reason, DLS has specified procedures for gathering all mandatory information and forwarding it to the Admiralty, therefore nautical charts are updated. It’s crucial for all participating partners to understand the importance of timely updating charts, to be a part of the procedure of updating charts, and thus contributing to safety of navigation. DLS, recognizing the imperative need for safe navigation, has established the necessary framework to serve the needs of mariners, as a response to the hardship and struggles of people working in such a demanding environment. “We live the sea every day”.

We wish safe sea voyages.

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Point cloud from hydrographic surveys