Fake Navigational Charts on the Rise, Says UKHO

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Published Apr 1, 2016 9:21 PM by The Maritime Executive

The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) has reported a rising number of counterfeit copies of charts and publications, and has issued a reminder that the use of unauthorized, unvalidated information may be unlawful and dangerous.

The counterfeit Admiralty products haven't been reviewed by UKHO's staff, who ensure the quality of charts and publications widely used for navigation around the world, and the content doesn't necessarily come from any relevant government source or hydrographic office. Its use for navigation could be hazardous, UKHO says.

In addition, fake charts do not satisfy SOLAS carriage requirements, and may violate the laws of flag and port state authorities, plus international copyright laws. In nations which are signatory to the Berne Convention on intellectual property rights, authorities have the ability to seize counterfeit documents.

UKHO has issued a guide to identifying counterfeit products, including photos of the originals displayed adjacent to photos of the fakes. The office suggests that mariners with suspicions about the authenticity of their sailing directions or charts to contact UKHO directly.

Damian Bowler, chief commercial officer of the UKHO, said that “while some of the counterfeits are very easy to spot, others are more difficult to detect. The UKHO continues to urge all purchasers, users, inspectors and regulators to look out for counterfeit ADMIRALTY charts and publications. Counterfeit versions . . . cannot be trusted for voyage planning or navigational purposes. They are unsafe, unofficial, non-compliant with SOLAS and illegal to carry or sell. Buyers also carry the considerable risk of failing port state inspections.”

“We are continuing to seek and stop the production and sale of counterfeit copies of ADMIRALTY products and have raised our concerns with the International Maritime Organisation, the International Hydrographic Organisation and Flag States. We also encourage anyone that suspects they may be in possession of counterfeit products to get in touch with us,” he said.