Coast Guard Port Access Route Study Underway

Public comment is being sought through June 3, 2015, on a
Coast Guard port access route study aimed at reducing maritime casualties and
increasing efficiency of commercial vessel traffic movement, as vessel traffic
increases in Alaska.
Coast Guard officials in Juneau said Dec. 8 that they are
seeking comments from as many different waterway users and groups as possible.
Based on comments received in 2010, the Coast Guard has
developed a potential vessel routing system from Nunivak Pass north, including
Nunivak Island, St. Lawrence Island, and north through the Bering Strait. The
routing measures consist of a series of four nautical mile wide, two-way
transit routes, coupled with precautionary areas of junction points.
The proposed routing measures are voluntary for all vessels
and fishing is not prohibited within the two-way route. Vessels engaged in
fishing that choose to operate within the route would be expected to operate in
accordance with the navigation rules and not impede the passage of other
vessels transiting via the shipping lane.
The Coast Guard is very interested in comments from the
commercial fishing industry on this proposed route, as this industry is a major
user of the waterway.
In development of the routing system, the Coast Guard has
taken into account some known high density fishing areas. For example, the
proposed route is well to the east of the 100 fathom curve in the Bering Sea
and well to the west of the red king crab savings area in Bristol Bay.
Also considered were the habitat conservation areas along
this shipping corridor and other environmentally or ecologically important
The proposed route closely mirrors current traffic patterns
for traffic between Unimak Pass and the Bering Strait. If Bering Strait
commercial vessel traffic increases, the Coast Guard anticipates this proposed
route will minimize disruptions to commercial fishing vessels because it is
expected commercial cargo vessels will choose to follow published and charted
shipping lanes, the Coast Guard said.

More information is online at and search for
“USCG-2014-0941.” Contacts in the Coast Guard Waterways Management Branch are
Lt. Kody Stitz,, and
David Seris,