The Coast Guard is currently embarked on a comprehensive evaluation of maritime traffic patterns on the Pacific Coast from California to Washington.
As part of that process, the service is seeking public comment on navigational conditions for the major ports up and down the coast, including Grays Harbor.
“The East Coast did it and it ended in 2020. We’re kind of copying what the East Coast did,” said Lt. j.g. Katherine Matha, planning officer for Coast Guard District 13. “The current presidential administration wants to increase wind farms offshore.”
The scope of the study is an extensive one, Matha said, and the effects will likely not be felt until far down the line.
“This one is a huge scope. It’s from San Diego to here,” Matha said. “We’re getting all the data and information. We get the data from the traffic patterns and crabbers and things like that. It gets analyzed by the Coast Guard. We do take every comment seriously.”
A draft version of the route study recommended establishing new voluntary traffic lanes for near-coast traffic to enhance safety and efficiency, according to a Coast Guard news release.
“There has been significant growth of waterway use along the Pacific Coast; we are committed to maintaining a high level of navigational safety for all members of the maritime community,” said Lt. Cmdr. Sara Conrad, activities chief for Coast Guard Pacific Area Port and Facilities, in a news release. “This draft study provides recommendations that facilitate safe vessel transits along the coast and connect to major port approaches in light of the increasing demand for use of our waterways.”
The study is more geared towards navigation lanes for larger traffic, Matha said — the effect on Grays Harbor is likely to be minimal.
“We’re certainly interested in it but we’re not expecting big changes up here. Nothing is earth-shattering,” Matha said. “Every single unit from San Diego to District 13, every single small unit. It’s a Coast Guard-wide effort.”
Comments can be submitted at www.regulations.gov for the study which has the docket number USCG-2021-0345.
“We love the public,” Matha said. “We want to talk to you.”