In part to determine how planned offshore wind farms could affect maritime navigation, the Coast Guard is undertaking a large-scale study of government, commercial and pleasure boat traffic up and down the Atlantic coast.
While 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. The outcomes could be far-reaching, including recommendations for new international agreements or vessel-routing measures where none exists.
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.
"What we're doing is identifying all of the uses of the water now so we can plan for the future," said John Walters, chief of the waterways management section for the Coast Guard's Fifth District, based in Portsmouth, Va.