[MARMAM] USCG PARS study of Potential Vessel Routing Measures to Reduce Vessel Strikes of North Atlantic Right Whales

Jeremy Firestone jf at udel.edu
Wed May 24 06:33:07 PDT 2006


[Federal Register: May 24, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 100)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 29876-29878]
>From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr24my06-25]                         
 
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DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
 
Coast Guard
 
33 CFR Part 167
 
[USCG-2005-20380]
 
 
Port Access Routes Study of Potential Vessel Routing Measures to 
Reduce Vessel Strikes of North Atlantic Right Whales
 
AGENCY: Coast Guard, DHS.
 
ACTION: Notice of study results; request for comments.
 
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SUMMARY: The Coast Guard announces the completion of a Port Access 
Route Study that analyzed potential vessel routing measures and 
considered adjusting existing vessel routing measures in order to help 
reduce the risk of vessel strikes of the highly endangered North 
Atlantic right whale. The study focused on the northern region off the 
Atlantic Coast which included Cape Cod Bay, the area off Race Point at 
the northern end of Cape Cod (Race Point) and the Great South Channel; 
and in the southern region which included areas along the seacoast in 
the approaches to the Ports of Jacksonville and Fernandina Beach, 
Florida, and Brunswick, Georgia. This notice summarizes the study's 
recommendations. Comments on these recommendations are requested.
 
DATES: Comments and related material must reach the Docket Management 
Facility on or before June 5, 2006.
 
ADDRESSES: Comments and material received from the public, as well as 
the actual study and other documents mentioned in this notice, are part 
of docket USCG-2005-20380 and are available for inspection or copying 
at the Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 
room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street SW., Washington, DC, 20590-0001, 
between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal 
holidays. You may also find this docket on the Internet at
http://dms.dot.gov
<http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log
=linklog&to=http://dms.dot.gov> 
.
 
    You may submit comments identified by Coast Guard docket number 
USCG-2005-20380 to the Docket Management Facility at the U.S. 
Department of Transportation. To avoid duplication, please use only one 
of the following methods:
    (1) Web site: http://dms.dot.gov
<http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log
=linklog&to=http://dms.dot.gov> .
 
    (2) Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, 400 Seventh Street SW., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
    (3) Fax: 202-493-2251.
    (4) Delivery: Room PL-401 on the Plaza level of the Nassif 
Building, 400 Seventh Street SW., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 
p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone 
number is 202-366-9329.
    (5) Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov
<http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log
=linklog&to=http://www.regulations.gov> .
 
 
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions on this notice 
of study results, call George Detweiler, Office of Navigation Systems, 
Coast Guard, telephone 202-267-0574, or send e-mail to
<mailto:Gdetweiler at comdt.uscg.mil> 
Gdetweiler at comdt.uscg.mil. If you have questions on viewing or 
 
submitting material to the docket, call Renee V. Wright, Program 
Manager, Docket Operations, telephone 202-493-0402-0271.
 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: You may obtain a copy of the Port Access 
Route Study by contacting either person listed under the FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT section. A copy is also available in the public 
docket at the address listed under the ADDRESSES section and 
electronically on the DMS Web Site at http://dms.dot.gov
<http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log
=linklog&to=http://dms.dot.gov> .
 
 
Public Participation and Request for Comments
 
    We encourage you to comment on the study and its recommendations by 
submitting comments and related materials. All comments received will 
be posted, without change, to http://dms.dot.gov
<http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log
=linklog&to=http://dms.dot.gov>  and will include any 
 
personal information you have provided. We have an agreement with the 
Department of Transportation (DOT) to use the Docket Management 
Facility. Please see DOT's ``Privacy Act'' paragraph below.
    Submitting comments: If you submit a comment, please include your 
name and address, identify the docket number for this notice of study 
(USCG-2005-20380), indicate the specific section of this document to 
which each comment applies, and give the reason for each comment. You 
may submit your comments and material by electronic means, mail, fax, 
or delivery to the Docket Management Facility at the address under 
ADDRESSES; but please submit your comments and material by only one 
means. If you submit them by mail or delivery, submit them in an 
unbound format, no larger than 8\1/2\ by 11 inches, suitable for 
copying and electronic filing. If you submit them by mail and would 
like to know that they reached the Facility, please enclose a stamped, 
self-addressed postcard or envelope. We will consider all
 
[[Page 29877]]
 
comments and material received during the comment period.
    Viewing comments and documents: To view comments, as well as 
documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, 
go to http://dms.dot.gov
<http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log
=linklog&to=http://dms.dot.gov>  at any time and conduct a simple search
using 
 
the docket number. You may also visit the Docket Management Facility in 
room PL-401 on the Plaza level of the Nassif Building, 400 Seventh 
Street SW., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, except Federal holidays.
    Privacy Act: Anyone can search the electronic form of all comments 
received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual 
submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf 
of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review the 
Department of Transportation's Privacy Act Statement in the Federal 
Register published on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477), or you may visit 
http://dms.dot.gov
<http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log
=linklog&to=http://dms.dot.gov> .
 
 
Definitions
 
    The following definitions are from the International Maritime 
Organization's (IMO's) publication ``Ships' Routeing'' and should help 
you review this notice:
    Area to be avoided or ATBA means a routing measure comprising an 
area within defined limits in which either navigation is particularly 
hazardous or it is exceptionally important to avoid casualties and 
which should be avoided by all vessels, or certain classes of vessels.
    Precautionary area means a routing measure comprising an area 
within defined limits where vessels must navigate with particular 
caution and within which the direction of traffic flow may be 
recommended.
    Recommended route means a route of undefined width, for the 
convenience of vessels in transit, which is often marked by centerline 
buoys.
    Recommended track is a route which has been specially examined to 
ensure so far as possible that it is free of dangers and along which 
vessels are advised to navigate.
    Separation Zone or separation line means a zone or line separating 
the traffic lanes in which vessels are proceeding in opposite or nearly 
opposite directions; or from the adjacent sea area; or separating 
traffic lanes designated for particular classes of vessels proceeding 
in the same direction.
    Traffic lane means an area within defined limits in which one-way 
traffic is established. Natural obstacles, including those forming 
separation zones, may constitute a boundary.
    Traffic Separation Scheme or TSS means a routing measure aimed at 
the separation of opposing streams of traffic by appropriate means and 
by the establishment of traffic lanes.
    Two-way route means a route within defined limits inside which two-
way traffic is established, aimed at providing safe passage of ships 
through waters where navigation is difficult or dangerous.
    Vessel routing system means any system of one or more routes or 
routing measures aimed at reducing the risk of casualties; it includes 
traffic separation schemes, two-way routes, recommended tracks, areas 
to be avoided, no anchoring areas, inshore traffic zones, roundabouts, 
precautionary areas, and deep-water routes.
 
Background and Purpose
 
When did the Coast Guard conduct this Port Access Route Study (PARS)?
 
    We conducted this PARS following our announcement of the PARS in a 
notice published in the Federal Register on February 18, 2005, (70 FR 
8312). This notice had a comment submission deadline of April 19, 2005.
 
What is the study area?
 
    The study area encompassed the two regions described as follows:
    1. Northern region: Cape Cod Bay; the area off Race Point at the 
northern end of Cape Cod (Race Point) and the Great South Channel.
    2. Southern region: The area bounded to the north by a line drawn 
at latitude 31[deg]27' N (which coincides with the northernmost 
boundary of the mandatory ship reporting system) and to the south by a 
line drawn at latitude line 29[deg]45' N. The eastern offshore boundary 
is formed by a line drawn at longitude 81[deg]00' W and the western 
boundary is formed by the shoreline. Included in this area are the 
ports of Jacksonville and Fernandina, FL, and Brunswick, GA.
 
Why did the Coast Guard conduct this PARS?
 
    The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of the National 
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published an advance 
notice of proposed rulemaking (NMFS ANPRM) (69 FR 30857, June 1, 2004) 
in the Federal Register, which announced that it is considering 
regulations to implement a strategy to reduce ship strikes of right 
whales (Strategy). The goal of the Strategy is to assist in the 
recovery of the right whale by reducing the likelihood and threat of 
ship strikes.
    Section 626 of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 
2004 (the 2004 Act) (enacted August 9, 2004) mandates that the Coast 
Guard shall: (1) Cooperate with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration in analyzing potential vessel routing measures for 
reducing vessel strikes of North Atlantic Right Whales, as described in 
the notice published at pages 30857 through 30861 of volume 69 of the 
Federal Register; and (2) provide a final report of the analysis to 
Congress within 18 months after the date of enactment of the Act.
    The Coast Guard is charged with enforcing the Marine Mammal 
Protection Act (MMPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the 
regulations issued under those statutes. One of the Coast Guard's 
primary strategic goals is the protection of the marine environment, 
including the conservation of living marine resources and enforcement 
of living marine resource laws.
    The Coast Guard works independently, and in collaboration with 
NMFS, to prevent ship strikes and promote right whale conservation. The 
Coast Guard issues local and written periodic notices to mariners 
concerning ship strikes, issues NAVTEX messages alerting mariners to 
the location of right whales, and actively participates in the 
Mandatory Ship Reporting (MSR) System that provides information to 
mariners entering right whale habitat. In addition, the Coast Guard 
provides patrols dedicated to enforcement of the ESA and the MMPA, 
provides limited vessel and aircraft support to facilitate right whale 
research and monitoring, and disseminates NMFS information packets to 
vessels boarded in or near right whale waters. As part of its Strategy 
development, and consistent with section 626 of the 2004 Act, NMFS 
asked the Coast Guard for assistance in its ship-strike rulemaking by 
conducting a Port Access Route Study (PARS).
 
How did the Coast Guard conduct this PARS?
 
    During the course of a routine PARS, the Coast Guard would review 
port data, which would include vessel types, vessel traffic density, 
types of cargo, economic impacts, port improvements, vessel safety, and 
overall environmental impacts. In addition, the Coast Guard would 
review comments received on the PARS notice. Further, if meetings of 
any type were held, comments received at those meetings would also be 
considered.
    In analyzing potential vessel routing measures for reducing vessel 
strikes of North Atlantic right whales, the Coast
 
[[Page 29878]]
 
Guard and NMFS agreed this PARS would be narrower in scope than a 
routine PARS because the Coast Guard did not consider economic impacts. 
Economic impacts are being considered by NMFS as part of an economic 
analysis it is conducting as part of the implementation of its 
Strategy. The Coast Guard analyzed ship transit data and reviewed 
research papers published and/or provided by NMFS. These papers 
discussed right whale habitat and migration patterns, and also analyzed 
ship transit data, including Mandatory Ship Reporting System data. 
Comments received on its PARS announcement in the Federal Register as 
well as comments NMFS received on its ANPRM were also reviewed by the 
Coast Guard.
 
Study Recommendations
 
    The PARS recommendations include the following:
    1. Establish precautionary areas at the entrance to the ports of 
Jacksonville and Fernandina Beach, FL, and Brunswick, GA.
    2. Establish six, two-way routes for the ports of Jacksonville and 
Fernandina Beach, FL, and Brunswick, GA.
    3. Establish precautionary areas at the entrance to Cape Cod Canal 
and in the vicinity of New Inlet, MA.
    4. Establish three, two-way routes in Cape Cod Bay to the ports of 
Boston and Provincetown, MA, and the entrance to Cape Cod Canal.
    5. Establish a two-way recommended track from the Cape Cod Canal 
entrance to Provincetown, MA.
    6. Realign and modify the location and size of the western portion 
of the TSS ``In the Approach to Boston, Massachusetts.''
 
Next Steps
 
    A brief synopsis of how the PARS recommendations will proceed 
towards implementation follows:
    1. Changes to the TSS will be implemented through submission of a 
proposal by the United States to the International Maritime 
Organization (IMO). Upon IMO approval, adoption, and implementation, 
NOAA charts will be revised to reflect changes to the TSS and the Coast 
Guard will revise the list of TSSs at 33 CFR part 167.
    2. The final locations of the precautionary areas, two-way routes, 
and the two-way recommended track will be determined and approved by 
the Coast Guard and NOAA. After approval they will be placed on the 
appropriate charts by NOAA. Notification of the establishment of these 
routing measures and their placement on applicable charts will be 
published in the appropriate Local Notice to Mariners.
    3. Changes to aids to navigation resulting from the above actions 
will be accomplished through the following established procedures--
notification of proposed changes in the Local Notice to Mariners with 
an opportunity for comment and notification of the final changes in the 
Local Notice to Mariners.
 
Conclusion
 
    We appreciate the comments we received concerning the PARS. We will 
provide opportunity for additional comments on any recommended changes 
to existing routing or operational measures listed in 33 CFR part 167 
through notices published in the Federal Register.
 
    Dated: May 15, 2006.
Howard L. Hime,
Acting Director of Standards, Assistant Commandant for Prevention.
[FR Doc. E6-7859 Filed 5-23-06; 8:45 am]
 
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