46 U.S. Code Section 70003 - Port access routes

(a) Authority To Designate.—Except as provided in subsection (b) and subject to the requirements of subsection (c), in order to provide safe access routes for the movement of vessel traffic proceeding to or from ports or places subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, the Secretary shall designate necessary fairways and traffic separation schemes for vessels operating in the territorial sea of the United States and in high seas approaches, outside the territorial sea, to such ports or places. Such a designation shall recognize, within the designated area, the paramount right of navigation over all other uses.

(b) Limitation.—

(1) In general.—No designation may be made by the Secretary under this section if—

(A) the Secretary determines such a designation, as implemented, would deprive any person of the effective exercise of a right granted by a lease or permit executed or issued under other applicable provisions of law; and

(B) such right has become vested before the time of publication of the notice required by paragraph (1) of subsection (c).

(2) Consultation required.—The Secretary shall make the determination under paragraph (1)(A) after consultation with the head of the agency responsible for executing the lease or issuing the permit.

(c) Consideration of Other Uses.—Before making a designation under subsection (a), and in accordance with the requirements of section 70004, the Secretary shall—

(1) undertake a study of the potential traffic density and the need for safe access routes for vessels in any area for which fairways or traffic separation schemes are proposed or that may otherwise be considered and publish notice of such undertaking in the Federal Register;

(2) in consultation with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of the Army, and the Governors of affected States, as their responsibilities may require, take into account all other uses of the area under consideration, including, as appropriate, the exploration for, or exploitation of, oil, gas, or other mineral resources, the construction or operation of deepwater ports or other structures on or above the seabed or subsoil of the submerged lands or the Outer Continental Shelf of the United States, the establishment or operation of marine or estuarine sanctuaries, and activities involving recreational or commercial fishing; and

(3) to the extent practicable, reconcile the need for safe access routes with the needs of all other reasonable uses of the area involved.

(d) Study.—In carrying out the Secretary's responsibilities under subsection (c), the Secretary shall—

(1) proceed expeditiously to complete any study undertaken; and

(2) after completion of such a study, promptly—

(A) issue a notice of proposed rulemaking for the designation contemplated; or

(B) publish in the Federal Register a notice that no designation is contemplated as a result of the study and the reason for such determination.

(e) Implementation of Designation.—In connection with a designation made under this section, the Secretary—

(1) shall issue reasonable rules and regulations governing the use of such designated areas, including rules and regulations regarding the applicability of rules 9 and 10 of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972, relating to narrow channels and traffic separation schemes, respectively, in waters where such regulations apply;

(2) to the extent that the Secretary finds reasonable and necessary to effectuate the purposes of the designation, make the use of designated fairways and traffic separation schemes mandatory for specific types and sizes of vessels, foreign and domestic, operating in the territorial sea of the United States and for specific types and sizes of vessels of the United States operating on the high seas beyond the territorial sea of the United States;

(3) may, from time to time, as necessary, adjust the location or limits of designated fairways or traffic separation schemes in order to accommodate the needs of other uses that cannot be reasonably accommodated otherwise, except that such an adjustment may not, in the judgment of the Secretary, unacceptably adversely affect the purpose for which the existing designation was made and the need for which continues; and

(4) shall, through appropriate channels—

(A) notify cognizant international organizations of any designation, or adjustment thereof; and

(B) take action to seek the cooperation of foreign States in making it mandatory for vessels under their control to use, to the same extent as required by the Secretary for vessels of the United States, any fairway or traffic separation scheme designated under this section in any area of the high seas.

46 U.S.C. § 70003 (2021)
References in Text

The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972, referred to in subsec. (e)(1), came into effect pursuant to the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972. See International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972 note under section 1602 of Title 33, Navigation and Navigable Waters.

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