International Association of Lighthouse Authorities

International Association of Lighthouse Authorities

The International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (or IALA for short) is a non-profit organization founded in 1957 to collect and provide nautical expertise and advice.


The International Association of marine aids to navigation and Lighthouse Authorities brings together representatives of the aidsto navigation services of more than 80 member countries for technical coordination, information sharing, and coordination of improvements to visual aids to navigation throughout the world. It was established in 1957 to provide a permanent organization to support the goals of the Technical Lighthouse Conferences, which had been convening since 1929. The General Assembly of IALA meets about every 4 years. The Council of 20 members meets twice a year to oversee the ongoing programs.

Five technical committees maintain the permanent programs:
* The Marine Marking Committee
* The Radionavigation Systems Committee
* The Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) Committee
* The Reliability Committee
* The Documentation Committee

IALA committees provide important documentation to the International Hydrographic Organization and other international organizations, while the IALA Secretariat acts as a clearing house for the exchange of technical information, and organizes seminars and technical support for developing countries.

Its principal work since 1973 has been the implementation of the IALA Maritime Buoyage System. This system replaced some 30 dissimilar buoyage systems in use throughout theworld with 2 major systems.

IALA is based near Paris in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France.

Main recommendations

The IALA is primarily known for its buoyage or sea mark systems that are used in the pilotage of vessels at sea:
* Lateral marks indicate the edges of a channel.
* Cardinal marks indicate the direction of safe water at a dangerous spot.
* Safe water marks indicate the deep water and open end of a channel.
* Special marks indicate administrative areas, such as speed restrictions or water skiing areas.
* Isolated danger marks indicate a hazard to shipping.

Each type of mark has a distinctive colour, shape and possibly a characteristic light.


The text of "Background" section of this article originated from section 125 of The American Practical Navigator, a document produced by the government of the United States of America.

ee also

* International Hydrographic Organization
* Captain John Bury
* General Lighthouse Authority

External links

* [ Homepage of the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities]
* [ Buoyage lateral system] IALA A, IALA B
* [ Bowditch has references to IALA]

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