Committees, Council & Symposium

Committees – 1st half 2021

The first round of the Committee meetings for 2021 were held from 1 March to 28 April for 9 weeks. The Secretariat upgraded the arrangements for virtual meetings and conducted familiarisation sessions before the meetings.

Committee meetings were held over a more extended period of time, accommodating the wide variety of time zones.

  • ENAV 27: 1 – 26 March 2021; 20 days
  • VTS 50: 10 – 31 March 2021; 16 days
  • ENG 13: 22 March – 19 April 2021; 21 days
  • ARM 13: 13 – 28 April 2021; 12 days

The virtual nature of the meetings meant that the number of attendees was higher for all committees than at previous physical meetings. There were 546 participants from 35 countries and sister organisations; 139 participants attended for the first time.

Because of limited plenary time, the presentations were made separately using the Microsoft Teams platform. It also gave an excellent opportunity for the participants to hear other committees’ topics. There were 18 presentations made during the committee period.

Council – 73

The 73rd session of the IALA Council was held by video conference from 8 to 10 June 2021. The Council proceeded in a good spirit although the pandemic was still very much present in everyone’mind. Business went as usual with activity reports from the Secretary-General, the deputy Secretary-General, the Dean and 7 members who submitted National Matters. Information about the progress on the change of status and a provisional timeline for the planning of the future steps was provided.

Since the IALA Heritage Lighthouse of the Year Award was established in 2019, the Engineering committee reviewed a high number of nominations submitted, emphasising the variety and cultural value of lighthouses around the world. In total, 29 nominations from 18 member countries were received for consideration. The Council decided to award Cape Byron lighthouse, Australia the title of IALA Heritage Lighthouse of the Year 2021.

The Council approved three recommendations and nine guidelines, and one workshop as well as the extended committee work programme for 2018-2023.

New and revised recommendations:

  • R0143 Provision of Virtual Aids to Navigation, Ed2.0, June 2021
  • R1022 Provision of GNSS Augmentation Service for maritime applications, Ed1.0, June 2021
  • R0110 Rhythmic characters on Aids to Navigation Ed5.0, June 2021

New and revised guidelines:

  • G1081 Provision of Virtual Aids to Navigation, Ed.2.0, June 2021
  • G1143 Unique Identifiers for Maritime Resources, Ed3.0, June 2021
  • G1159 Ship Reporting from a shore-based perspective, Ed1.0, June 2021
  • G1134 Surface colours used as visual signals on AtoN, Ed2.0, June 2021
  • G1160 Competencies for planning and implementing a VTS, Ed1.0, June 2021
  • G1141 Operational procedures for delivering VTS, Ed2.0, June 2021
  • G1132 VTS Voice Communications and Phraseology, Ed 2.0, June 2021
  • G1017 Assessment for recognition of prior learning in VTS Training, Ed2.0, June 2021
  • G1161 Evaluation of Platforms for the Provision of Maritime Services in the Context of e-Navigation Ed1.0, June 2021

14th Symposium – 2021

The 14th International VTS Symposium – ‘Enhanced Maritime Safety and Efficiency by Connectivity’ was held from 12 – 16 April 2021 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The Symposium was attended by 230 delegates. The delegates represented 37 countries, of which 33 were IALA National members. The associated exhibition attracted 12 Industrial members, displaying the latest developments in VTS and e-Navigation. A series of 34 presentations were given under 12 broad headings and resulted in the following:


  • VTS will be essential for digital information exchange and therefore central to the successful digital transformation within the maritime world.
  • Maritime connectivity is paramount for progressing e-Navigation. It is time to settle on the standards for the first generation of a worldwide connectivity and data communication solutions so industry can move forward with innovative solutions.
  • VDES R-Mode can act as terrestrial backup for GNSS by using time synchronised ranging information. VDES also provides improved communication capabilities.
  • Advanced decision support systems will assist both VTS operators’ and navigators’ situational awareness, facilitate risk assessment and improve the safety and efficiency of navigation.
  • The provision of S-100 digital maritime services is a key enabler for e-navigation. Global harmonization of standards is required for a successful implementation of the ambitious digital maritime agenda.
  • Successful VTS training is a crucial factor for delivering VTS in a professional and harmonized way. New skill sets for VTS personnel to meet changing demands will be essential and should be taken into account by relevant authorities.
  • VTS will be fundamental in implementing harmonized digital data to prepare for management of mixed traffic areas with both conventional and autonomous vessels.
  • Autonomous systems, driven by a business case with defined user needs and requirements, are becoming operational and stakeholders need to be prepared. Standardisation, harmonization and definition of responsibilities is required to guide current and future activities.

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