The U.S. Coast Guard is undertaking a large-scale study of government, commercial and pleasure boat traffic up and down the Atlantic coast.
Although the Coast Guard routinely looks at vessel traffic on a port-by-port basis, the study that's now under way is the first to examine waters beyond port entrances, from Maine to Florida.
As part of the investigation, officials are asking for input from maritime industries, commercial watermen and recreational boaters who operate within 200 nautical miles of the East Coast.
Officials decided to launch the examination about a year ago, around the time that the U.S. Department of the Interior announced “wind energy areas” off the coasts of several Atlantic states. No offshore wind farms are operational yet, but more than a dozen are in various stages of development.
Additionally, the Coast Guard is seeking written guidance from the public. It issued its first call for input in May, noting that some of the wind energy areas "are located in or very near the
traditional routes used by vessels in foreign trade and on Atlantic coastwise transits."
In its previous request, the Coast Guard received 26 comments, most of which were applicable to the Mid-Atlantic region and did not include information from all stakeholders.
“In addition to the Mid-Atlantic region, the Coast Guard has become aware of private sector interest in developing wind energy and hydrokinetic installations off the coasts of Maine, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida,” the Coast Guard said. “Therefore, it is important that the Coast Guard receive comments on the potential impacts to the maritime community in these locations, as well.”
Comments will be accepted through Jan. 31.