[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 118 (Monday, June 20, 2011)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 35805-35806]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-15167]



Coast Guard

33 CFR Part 167


Port Access Route Study: The Approaches to San Francisco

AGENCY: Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION: Notice of availability of study results.


SUMMARY: The Coast Guard announces the availability of a Port Access 
Route Study (PARS) evaluating the continued applicability of and the 
potential need for modifications to the current vessel routing in the 
approaches to San Francisco. The study was completed in February, 2011. 
This notice summarizes the study recommendations which include 
enhancements to existing vessel routing measures.

    Viewing the comments and ``Port Access Route Study Approaches to 
San Francisco Bay'' February 2011. To view the comments and the PARS 
San Francisco go to http://www.regulations.gov, click on the ``read 
comments'' box, which will then become highlighted in blue. In the 
``Keyword'' box insert ``USCG-2009-0576'' and click ``Search.'' Click 
the ``Open Docket Folder'' in the ``Actions'' column. If you do not 
have access to the Internet, you may view the docket online by visiting 
the Docket Management Facility in Room W12-140 on the ground floor of 
the Department of Transportation West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, 
SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, except Federal holidays. We have an agreement with the 
Department of Transportation to use the Docket Management Facility.
    Privacy Act: Anyone can search the electronic form of 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 a 
Privacy Act, system of records notice regarding our public dockets in 
the January 17, 2008, issue of the Federal Register (73 FR 3316).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions concerning this 
notice, contact Lieutenant Lucas Mancini, Eleventh Coast Guard 
District, telephone 510-437-3801, e-mail [email protected]. If 
you have questions on viewing the docket contact, Renee V. Wright, 
Program Manager, Docket Operations, 202-366-9826.
    Definitions: The following definitions should help the reader to 
understand terms used throughout this document:
    Marine Environment, as defined by the Ports and Waterways Safety 
Act, means the navigable waters of the United States and the land 
resources therein and thereunder; the waters and fishery resources of 
any area over which the United States asserts exclusive fishery 
management authority; the seabed and subsoil of the Outer

[[Page 35806]]

Continental Shelf of the Unites States, the resources thereof and the 
waters superjacent thereto; and the recreational, economic, and scenic 
values of such waters and resources.
    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 
    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.
    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

    The Coast Guard published a notice of study in the Federal Register 
on December 10, 2009 (74 FR 65543), entitled ``Port Access Route Study: 
Off San Francisco'' and completed the study in February, 2011.
    The study area encompassed the traffic separation scheme off San 
Francisco and extended to the limit of the Coast Guard San Francisco 
Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) area of responsibility in order to analyze 
traffic patterns of vessels departing from or approaching the current 
traffic lanes. The VTS area covers the seaward approaches within a 38 
nautical mile radius of Mount Tamalpais (37[deg] 55.8'N, 122[deg] 
34.6'W). The coverage area is annotated on National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) chart number 18645.
    The primary purpose of the study was to reconcile the need for safe 
access routes with other reasonable waterway uses, to the extent 
practical. The goal of the study was to help reduce the risk of marine 
casualties and increase the efficiency of vessel traffic in the study 
area. When vessels follow predictable and charted routing measures, 
congestion may be reduced, and mariners may be better able to predict 
where vessel interactions may occur and act accordingly. The Coast 
Guard studied whether extending the traffic separation scheme would 
increase the predictability of vessel movements and what the impact 
might be on fishing vessels operating in the area. The study also 
assessed potential impacts on the Gulf of the Farallons and Cordell 
Bank National Marine Sanctuaries and the marine environment if the 
traffic lanes were extended or modified. The Coast Guard announced the 
notice of study in the Federal Register on December 10, 2009 (74 FR 
65543), entitled ``Port Access Route Study: Off San Francisco.'' Due to 
the lack of a substantive number of comments in response to the 
original notice and our strong desire to engage the public in the study 
process, we announced a public meeting to be held October 20, 2010 at 
the Executive Inn and Suites in Oakland California. The Coast Guard 
also sent out a press release to local media and news outlets to help 
solicit public comment.
    The recommendations of the PARS are based in large part on the 
comments received, public outreach, and consultation with other 
government agencies.

Study Recommendations

    The PARS evaluated 5 separate concerns that resulted in 7 
recommendations intended to improve the safety of vessel traffic in the 
study area, as well as adhere to governing regulations regarding the 
National Marine Sanctuaries. The actual PARS should be consulted for a 
detailed explanation of each recommendation. The PARS also contains a 
chartlet of the proposed changes to the TSS. It can be accessed as 
described in the Viewing the comments and ``Port Access Route Study 
Approaches to San Francisco Bay'' February 2011 section of this notice. 
The PARS recommendations include:
     Extend the northern TSS 17nm to the northern end of the 
VTS San Francisco area of responsibility.
     Add a dog leg turn in the northern TSS just below the 38th 
parallel to keep vessels on a predictable path in a prime area for 
     Change the current flared configuration of the northern 
TSS to a 3 mile wide approach. The 3 mile wide TSS would consist of 1 
nautical mile wide lanes, separated by a 1 nautical mile wide 
separation zone.
     Extend the western TSS 3nm seaward to the 200 fathom 
contour at the edge of the continental shelf.
     Shift the seaward end of the outbound lane closest to the 
Farallon Islands in the western TSS 3.7 nautical miles to the south. No 
shift in the inbound lane of the western TSS.
     Change the current flared configuration of the western TSS 
to a 3 mile wide approach. The 3 mile wide TSS would consist of 1 
nautical mile wide lanes, separated by a 1 nautical mile wide 
separation zone.
     Extend the southern TSS 8.5NM to the southern end of the 
VTS San Francisco area of responsibility.


    The PARS contains 7 recommendations, which would require the 
approval of the International Maritime Organization for implementation. 
The Coast Guard will follow the Federal rulemaking process for 
implementation of any of the proposed changes to the traffic separation 
schemes. This process will also include section 7 consultations with 
the National Marine Fisheries Service in accordance with the Endangered 
Species Act. This will provide ample opportunity for additional 
comments on proposed changes to the existing vessel routing system 
through a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) published in the Federal 

    Dated: May 20, 2011.
J.R. Castillo,
Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, Eleventh Coast Guard 
[FR Doc. 2011-15167 Filed 6-17-11; 8:45 am]