Regulated Navigation Areas established along Oregon, Washington coasts

SEATTLE — A Coast Guard rule to establish Regulated Navigation Areas (RNA) along the Oregon and Washington coasts will become effective Thursday.

The new rule will have minimal effect on current procedures for restricting operation of recreational vessels and uninspected passenger vessels in the RNA due to unsafe conditions. However, the rule does address new lifejacket requirements for vessels crossing a bar when unsafe conditions exist. These new requirements are based on the type of vessel (recreational boat, uninspected passenger vessels, commercial fishing vessel, and inspected small passenger vessels) and require vessels of a certain length or smaller that are crossing the bar to have personnel on deck don lifejackets when there is a restriction to recreational or uninspected passenger vessels of a determined length. Vessels that have additional safety requirements imposed due to their length are also required to check in with the Coast Guard between sunset and sunrise.

The rule streamlines the process of closing bars within the RNA when severe environmental conditions exist. The number of bar closures that occur will not be affected by these regulations. The Coast Guard feels this rule will help mitigate risks associated with the bars and enhance the safety of the persons and vessels operating on and in the vicinity of them.

Mariners desiring to cross a bar restricted to them or that is closed are advised to contact the Coast Guard Captain of the Port or the local Captain of the Port designee. Vessels may be permitted to cross on a case by case basis.

The rule amends Title 33 Code of Federal Regulations Part 165, Subpart F by adding Section 165.1322, which establishes Regulated Navigation Areas (RNA) in the coastal inlets and rivers of Oregon and Washington where hazardous bars exist. The requirements of the regulated navigation areas replace the “other unsafe conditions” found in 33 CFR 177.07(f) that applied to recreational and uninspected passenger vessels operating in the former Regulated Boating Areas and expands requirements for lifejacket wear for additional vessels operating within the RNA when certain conditions exist. Other requirements of 33 CFR 177 – Correction of Especially Hazardous Conditions, still apply.

The Coast Guard encourages the public to view the final rule published in Federal Register Vol. 74, No. 220 at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html.

A scanned copy of the regulation can be viewed at http://www.d13publicaffairs.com/clients/uscg-13/293291.pdf

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