Vessel Traffic Assessment: Near Point Mugu, San Francisco Bay, Humboldt Bay, and Morro Bay, CA

Published date25 February 2022
Citation87 FR 10757
Record Number2022-03990
SectionProposed rules
CourtCoast Guard
Federal Register, Volume 87 Issue 38 (Friday, February 25, 2022)
[Federal Register Volume 87, Number 38 (Friday, February 25, 2022)]
                [Proposed Rules]
                [Pages 10757-10760]
                From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
                [FR Doc No: 2022-03990]
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                DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
                Coast Guard
                33 CFR Part 165
                [Docket No. USCG-2021-0345]
                Vessel Traffic Assessment: Near Point Mugu, San Francisco Bay,
                Humboldt Bay, and Morro Bay, CA
                AGENCY: Coast Guard, DHS.
                ACTION: Notification of inquiry; request for comments.
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                SUMMARY: On July 28, 2021, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Pacific Area Command
                issued the Pacific Coast-Port Access Route Study (PAC-PARS) in the
                Federal Register directing USCG District Eleven and USCG District
                Thirteen to complete a PARS on the Pacific coast. In support of the
                PAC-PARS, USCG District Eleven has identified four areas to evaluate
                activities within its area of responsibility. USCG District Eleven
                requests public comments regarding vessel traffic patterns in the areas
                near Point Mugu and south of the Channel Islands in the Pacific Missile
                Range, San Francisco Bay, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
                (BOEM) Humboldt Bay and Morro Bay offshore Wind Energy Areas (WEAs).
                Information received will be used to make recommendations regarding
                establishing safety routing measures to improve waterway operations and
                vessel movement along the California coast.
                DATES: Comments and related material must be received on or before May
                26, 2022.
                ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-
                [[Page 10758]]
                2021-0345 using the Federal portal http://www.regulations.gov. See the
                ``Public Participation and Request for Comments'' portion of the
                SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for further instructions on
                submitting comments.
                FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions about this
                notification of study, call or email Mr. Tyrone Conner, Eleventh Coast
                Guard District (dpw), U.S. Coast Guard; telephone (510) 437-2968, email
                [email protected].
                SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
                I. Table of Abbreviations
                CFR Code of Federal Regulations
                DHS Department of Homeland Security
                U.S.C. United States Code
                PAC Pacific Area Command
                PARS Port Access Route Study
                PAC-PARS Pacific Coast-Port Access Route Study
                EEZ Exclusive Economic Zone
                RNA Regulated Navigation Areas
                TSS Traffic Separation Scheme
                USCG United States Coast Guard
                BOEM Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
                WEA Wind Energy Area
                NOI Notice of Inquiry
                IMO International Maritime Organization
                DOD Department of Defense
                OCS Outer Continental Shelf
                II. Background and Purpose
                 The Coast Guard is conducting a Port Access Route Study (PARS) to
                evaluate safe access routes for the movement of vessel traffic
                proceeding to or from ports or places along the western seaboard of the
                United States and to determine whether Fairways and Traffic Separation
                Schemes for vessels and/or International Maritime Organization (IMO)
                recommended routes should be established, adjusted and/or modified. The
                goal of the Pacific Coast-PARS (PAC-PARS) is to enhance maritime safety
                by examining shipping routes and waterway uses, and, to the extent
                practicable, reconcile the paramount right of navigation within
                designated port access routes with other waterway uses such as the
                development of aquaculture farms, offshore renewable energy, commercial
                spaceports/re-entry sites, marine sanctuaries, ports supporting Panamax
                vessels, potential LNG ports, Pacific Missile Range, and additional
                commercial vessel traffic. During the preliminary information-gathering
                portion, the areas near Point Mugu and south of the Channel Islands in
                the Pacific Missile Range, San Francisco Bay, and both BOEM WEAs were
                identified as high-interest zones for traffic congestion and navigation
                safety.
                 A. Requirements for PARS: Chapter 700, Ports and Waterways Safety,
                of Title 46 of the United States Code, specifically 46 U.S.C. 70003
                directs the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard
                resides, in order to provide safe access routes for the movement of
                vessel traffic proceeding to or from ports or places subject to the
                jurisdiction of the United States, to designate necessary fairways and
                traffic separation schemes for vessels operating in the territorial sea
                of the United States and high seas approaches, outside the territorial
                sea, to such ports or places. Such a designation shall recognize,
                within the designated area, the paramount right of navigation over all
                other uses.
                 46 U.S.C. 70003 requires the Secretary to: (1) Undertake a study of
                the potential traffic density and the need for safe access routes for
                vessels in any area for which fairways or traffic separation schemes
                are proposed or that may otherwise be considered and publish notice of
                such undertaking in the Federal Register; (2) in consultation with the
                Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of
                Commerce, the Secretary of the Army, and the Governors of affected
                States, as their responsibilities may require, take into account all
                other uses of the area under consideration, including, as appropriate,
                the exploration for, or exploitation of, oil, gas, or other mineral
                resources, the construction or operation of deep-water ports or other
                structures on or above the seabed or subsoil of the submerged lands or
                the Outer Continental Shelf of the United States, the establishment or
                operation of marine or estuarine sanctuaries, and activities involving
                recreational or commercial fishing; and (3) to the extent practicable,
                reconcile the need for safe access routes with the needs of all other
                reasonable uses of the area involved.
                 46 U.S.C. 70003 requires the Secretary to proceed expeditiously to
                complete any study undertaken; and after completion of such a study, to
                promptly issue a notice of proposed rulemaking for the designation
                contemplated or publish in the Federal Register a notice of rulemaking
                that no designation is contemplated as a result of the study and the
                reason for such determination.
                 B. Previous Port Access Route Studies: The approaches to San
                Francisco, CA, were last studied in 2009, and the final results were
                published in the Federal Register on June 20, 2011 (76 FR 35805). The
                study was conducted to evaluate the continued applicability and the
                potential need for modifications to the vessel routing to help reduce
                the risk of marine casualties and increase the efficiency of vessel
                traffic in the study area. All USCG publications regarding this study
                can be found by searching docket USCG-2009-0576 on https://www.regulations.gov. The Port Access Route Study for the Strait of Juan
                de Fuca, Haro Strait, Boundary Pass, Rosario Strait, the Strait of
                Georgia, and adjacent waters was completed in November 2000, published
                in the Federal Register on January 22, 2001 (66 FR 6514). The study was
                conducted to evaluate the need for modifications to current vessel
                routing and traffic management measures due to increased maritime
                activities. However, there has never been a PARS conducted for the
                entire Pacific Coast of the United States designed to analyze all
                vessel traffic proceeding to and from all the ports and transiting
                through the United States Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
                 C. Need for a New Port Access Route Study: Given the current
                development of aquaculture farms, offshore renewable energy, commercial
                spaceports/re-entry sites, expansion of marine sanctuaries, development
                of ports supporting Panamax vessels, potential LNG ports, National
                Security Measures, DOD testing and training, and commercial traffic,
                the Coast Guard is conducting the PAC-PARS (Washington, Oregon, and
                California). This PAC-PARS will focus on the coastwise shipping routes
                and near coastal users of the Pacific Ocean between the coastal ports
                and the approaches to coastal ports within the EEZ. This PAC-PARS will
                help the Coast Guard determine what impact, if any, the siting,
                construction, and operation of new developments may have on existing
                near coastal users of the Pacific Ocean. To ensure the safety of
                navigation, the Coast Guard will determine the impacts of rerouting
                traffic, funneling traffic, and placement of structures that may
                obstruct navigation. Some of the effects to be considered are increased
                vessel traffic density, offshore vessel routing, fixed navigation
                obstructions, underwater cable hazards, and economic impacts. Analyzing
                the various results will require a thorough understanding of the
                interrelationships of shipping, other commercial and recreational uses,
                Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) development, and port operations.
                III. Information Requested
                 Timelines, Study Area, Focus, and Process: Coast Guard Eleventh
                District will conduct further analysis in the following areas, which
                may take approximately three to six months to complete. The study will
                focus on vessel traffic and navigation mitigation
                [[Page 10759]]
                techniques to improve and support safe navigation transits within the
                area. It will encompass the areas bound by the aforementioned
                coordinates.
                 This is a Notification of Inquiry (NOI) to assess the vessel
                traffic and routing in the waters indicated by the supplemental PDF,
                ``Chart of District Eleven PAC-PARS Focus Areas'' (available in the
                docket), and bound by the following coordinates:
                Area 1: BOEM HUMBOLDT BAY WEA:
                 40-37.06N 124-35.22W;
                 40-37.62N 125-15.54W;
                 41-14.16N 125-15.54W;
                 41-13.61N 124-15.42W.
                Area 2: SAN FRANCISCO BAY:
                 36-16.27N 121-54.24W;
                 36-10.36N 123-18.54W;
                 38-06.78N 124-29.34W;
                 38-33.93N 123-30.12W.
                Area 3: BOEM MORRO BAY WEA:
                 35-53.90N 122-53.22W;
                 35-57.09N 121-45.18W;
                 35-20.35N 121-17.04W;
                 35-18.54N 122-24.60W.
                Area 4: POINT MUGU:
                 33-46.29N 120-07.80W;
                 33-53.04N 119-22.80W;
                 33-28.62N 118-36.48W;
                 33-2.922N 118-35.10W;
                 32-50.54N 119-17.58W;
                 32-13.79N 121-44.22W;
                 34-19.54N 123-07.02W;
                 35-14.83N 121-01.86W;
                 34-59.52N 120-41.52W;
                 33-58.98N 120-39.48W.
                 We will analyze current and historical vessel traffic, fishing
                vessel information, agency and stakeholder experience in vessel traffic
                management, navigation, ship handling, and effects of weather. We
                encourage you to participate by submitting comments in response to this
                proposed rule.
                 We will publish the results of the inquiry in the Federal Register
                under the same docket USCG-2021-0345. It is possible that the results
                may validate existing vessel routing measures and conclude that no
                changes are necessary. It is also possible that the study may recommend
                one or more changes to enhance navigational safety and the efficiency
                of vessel traffic. The recommendations may consider the development of
                future rulemakings or appropriate international agreements.
                 Possible Scope of the Recommendations: We are attempting to
                determine the scope of any safety concerns associated with vessel
                transits in the focus areas. The information gathered during the study
                should help us identify concerns and mitigating solutions.
                Considerations might include: (1) Maintain the current vessel routing
                measures; (2) modify the existing traffic separation schemes; (3)
                create one or more precautionary areas; (4) create one or more inshore
                traffic zones; (5) establish area(s) to be avoided; (6) create deep-
                draft routes; (7) establish Regulated Navigation Areas (RNA) with
                specific vessel operating requirements to ensure safe navigation near
                shallow water; (8) identify any other appropriate ships' routing
                measures; (9) use this study for future decisions on routing measures
                or other maritime traffic considerations and; (10) use this study to
                inform other agencies concerning the impacts of their future endeavors.
                 Questions: To help us conduct the area study, we request
                information that will help answer the following questions, although
                comments on other issues addressed in this notice are also welcome. In
                responding to a question, please explain your reasons for each answer
                and follow the instructions under ``Public Participation and Request
                for Comments'' below.
                 These questions were generated with the purpose of eliciting
                information for the four focus areas alone. Any information provided
                should be directly related to one or more of the four focus areas.
                 General Questions (all four areas):
                 (1) What are the demographics of the vessel your organization
                represents? (Vessel length, vessel draft, vessel type, etc.)
                 (2) Which of the four areas do you transit through? Where are your
                transit routes?
                 (3) What criteria are used in determining your transit routes?
                 (4) How are your vessel routes affected by seasonal weather
                patterns, storms, or other adverse environmental conditions you have
                experienced in the focus areas? Please explain.
                 (5) What navigational hazards do vessels operating in the focus
                areas face? Please describe.
                 (6) Are there strains on the current vessel routing systems?
                 (7) Do you perceive increasing traffic density to cause increased
                navigational risk?
                 (8) What is your prediction of future growth with traffic density?
                Please describe.
                 (9) What is the minimum safe width of coastwise traffic separation
                schemes and lanes considering the traffic density and other conditions
                of the focus areas?
                 (10) Are modifications to existing vessel routing measures needed
                to address hazards and improve traffic efficiency in the study area? If
                so, please describe.
                 (11) Is your organization open to traffic management strategies
                (TSS, Fairways, IMO recommended routes)? Please elaborate.
                 (12) What costs and benefits are associated with traffic management
                strategies?
                 (13) What traffic management strategies do you think are most cost-
                effective?
                 (14) What traffic management strategies do you think are most
                detrimental to cost-effectiveness?
                 (15) What impacts, both positive and negative, would changes to
                existing routing measures or new routing measures have on the study
                area?
                 (16) What improvements to waterway management would you like to
                see? If none, why?
                 (17) What current waterway operations affect navigation? How
                (details please)?
                 (18) Do the marine sanctuaries affect your navigation routing
                plans?
                 (19) What is a safe and appropriate distance between vessel traffic
                and major projects such as aquaculture farms and wind farms?
                 (20) Are there any results you would like to see in the completed
                PAC-PARS study?
                 (21) Would you be interested in attending virtual presentations of
                findings?
                 Pacific Missile Range off Point Mugu and Vandenberg Space Force
                Base:
                 (22) Do you typically transit to the north or to the south of the
                Channel Islands?
                 (23) Do the operations surrounding the Pacific Missile Range off
                Vandenberg Space Force Base and the Point Mugu zone affect your routing
                plans and vessel movement? How?
                 (24) How often are you displaced by hazardous operations, testing,
                and military training in the Pacific Missile Range? Please describe.
                 BOEM Wind Energy Areas (Humboldt Bay and Morro Bay)
                 (25) What navigational challenges do you foresee with the
                implementation of BOEM's Wind Energy Areas (WEAs)?
                 (26) Do you currently transit through the proposed BOEM WEAs?
                Please describe.
                 (27) Do you think the Coast Guard should create designated
                fairways, traffic separation schemes for vessels, or exclusion/
                restricted areas around wind farms?
                 (28) Would you prefer wind farm exclusion/restricted areas where
                you can navigate anywhere outside of the wind farm, or would you prefer
                to restrict your navigation inside designated coastwise fairways and
                traffic separation schemes through the wind farms? Please explain.
                 Is there any additional information, unrelated to any specific
                question
                [[Page 10760]]
                above, that you believe the USCG needs to consider?
                IV. Public Participation and Request for Comments
                 We encourage you to submit comments in response to this
                notification of inquiry through the Federal Decision Making portal at
                https://www.regulations.gov. To do so, go to https://www.regulations.gov, type USCG-2021-0345 in the search box, and click
                ``Search.'' Next, look for this document in the Search Results column,
                and click on it. Then click on the Comment option. In your submission,
                please include the docket number for this notice of inquiry and provide
                a reason for each suggestion or recommendation. If your material cannot
                be submitted using https://www.regulations.gov, contact the person in
                the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document for
                alternate instructions.
                 To view documents mentioned in this notice of inquiry as being
                available in the docket, find the docket as described in the previous
                paragraph, and then select ``Supporting & Related Material'' in the
                Document Type column. Public comments will also be placed in our online
                docket and can be viewed by following instructions on the https://www.regulations.gov Frequently Asked Questions web page. We review all
                comments received, but we may choose not to post off-topic,
                inappropriate, or duplicate comments that we receive.
                 We accept anonymous comments. Comments we post to https://www.regulations.gov will include any personal information you have
                provided. For more about privacy and submissions in response to this
                document, see DHS's eRulemaking System of Records notice (85 FR 14226,
                March 11, 2020).
                 Additionally, if you go to the online docket and sign up for email
                alerts, you will be notified when comments are posted.
                 This notice is published under the authority of 5 U.S.C. 552(a).
                 Dated: February 17, 2022.
                B.K. Penoyer,
                Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, Eleventh District.
                [FR Doc. 2022-03990 Filed 2-24-22; 8:45 am]
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