NOAA Clarifies: No Timeline For Ending Paper Charts

Response to National Charting Plan shows strong reliance on paper charts and RNCs

NOAA nautical charts
NOAA's paper charts will continue in a print-on-demand format despite concern over the latest charting plan that the paper and raster products for boaters would be eliminated.Courtesy NOAA Photo Library

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published a report to its blog site on May 31, clarifying rumors that the latest National Charting Plan (released in February) had called for a complete end to paper charts. NOAA stated that there is no timeline for ending the production of NOAA's print-on-demand paper charts or raster navigational charts (RNC).

MapTech, a company producing charts and guides for boaters, stated in a press release delivered to media on May 25 that NOAA "plans to cease support for producing the 1,000-plus NOAA charts that millions of boaters use and rely on for safe navigation." Later in the press release, MapTech said, "NOAA has done an exemplary job of producing some of the best charts available anywhere. It would be highly detrimental to boating safety and prudent navigation if they were to implement this proposal." This is in reference to the "sunsetting" of paper navigational charts, which was mentioned in NOAA's National Charting Plan.

NOAA said in its blog statement that it received a large amount of feedback regarding this news, for both paper charts and RNCs (raster navigational charts).

"We recognize the continued popularity and dependence of many of our users on our paper and raster charts, and NOAA will continue to update these charts with all critical information," the statement said. "... We expect this process (doing away with paper charts) may take decades to complete, as user communities continue to adopt electronic navigation and our production system and products continue to improve. However, we do want to start the conversation and solicit feedback to focus our improvement on electronic navigational charts (ENC)."