The movement of goods by sea has supported world commerce for centuries, giving rise to a need for ships to navigate safely and efficiently. To this end, authorities throughout the world have provided aids to navigation (also known as AtoN) in and around their coastal waters.
The earliest aids to navigation were shore side beacons and lights, followed by the introduction of buoys. Over the years, these aids have been steadily improved upon with greater visibility and range and the addition of audible signals.
Buoys at the entrance to Avatiu Harbour
An Aid to Navigation (AtoN) is generally defined as something that is external to the vessel that assists with safe navigation – bouys, beacons, lights, leading lines, sound signals, and more.
Contracting Governments to the IMO Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) have an international obligation under Treaty Law to provide aids to navigation and navigational warnings.
In the Cook Islands the oversight for implementing aids to navigation, in general, is carried out by the Ministry of Transport. Within the port limits, the Port Authority has responsibility for the AtoN.
All hazards to navigation are to be marked in accordance with the guidelines and recommendations provided by the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA). Please contact us for more information on AtoN.