Vessel traffic study calls for new Pacific Coast fairways

(SAN FRANCISCO) — The U.S. Coast Guard has published the final report of the Pacific Coast Port Access Route Study (PAC-PARS) in the Federal Register, the first comprehensive evaluation of vessel traffic patterns in the waters off California, Oregon and Washington.

The main goal of the PAC-PARS was to evaluate historic and future waterway usage to determine navigational risk and provide recommendations to uphold safety of navigation. To do this, the study examined vessel tracking data from the past 10 years and considered environmental data, existing and planned offshore development infrastructure, and historical marine incident data among other datasets.

U.S. Coast Guard rendering

The Coast Guard also considered concerns and recommendations from maritime stakeholders, tribes and members of the public. The Coast Guard received and considered more than 22,000 comments during three public comment periods.

The PAC-PARS recommends establishing new voluntary fairways for coastwise and nearshore vessel traffic with connections to existing traffic separation schemes and ports. These fairways facilitate safe and predictable traffic patterns as the demand for and use of Pacific coastal waters increases.

“The variety and number of waterway users along the Pacific Coast has dramatically increased over the past decade; in the interest of maintaining navigational safety for all members of the maritime community, the Coast Guard conducted this study,” said Lt. Liesl Olson, Coast Guard Pacific area port and waterways specialist. “Its fairway recommendations promote safe vessel transits along the coast and connect to major port approaches.”

A notice of availability for the final study results, as well as the associated appendices and enclosures, were published on the Federal Register under docket USCG-2021-0345, and can be found by searching the docket above at

Additionally, the study will be available at the Coast Guard Navigation Center’s website.

– U.S. Coast Guard

By Rich Miller