Port Access Route Study

Strait of Juan de Fuca and Adjacent Waters

Why is the Coast Guard conducting the study?

The study, begun in January 1999, was seen as one of the best ways to address the risks of vessel collisions, powered groundings, and drift groundings those accident types identified as the highest risk. The goal of the study is to review the existing vessel traffic routes and other traffic management tools currently in use, with an eye toward improving one of the safest waterways management systems in the world.

Guiding Principles

  • Improve maritime safety by reducing risk through definition of a simple, logical waterways management system.
  • Standardize regulations across the international boundary.
  • Accommodate existing multiple waterway users.
  • Increase vessel traffic order and predictability.

Tracking Ships

The Strait of Juan de Fuca and the adjacent waters, including Haro Strait, Boundary Pass, Rosario Strait and the Strait of Georgia are managed jointly by the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards. Joint management is accomplished primarily through the Cooperative Vessel Traffic System (CVTS). This one-of-a-kind system allows for management of vessel traffic in a waterway segment without regard to the international boundary. Through a series of radar sites and voice communications all participating vessels are tracked throughout the waterway.

Shipping Lanes

A vessel traffic separation scheme, similar to a divider median on a highway, is used to maintain a safe distance between opposing vessel traffic by adding order and predictability to vessel movements.

Preliminary Study Results Recommend:

Based upon a review of various studies and data concerning traffic patterns and risk, the Coast Guard has identified several areas where waterway safety improvements could be made and is currently soliciting feedback on these proposals:


  • Extend the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) approximately 10nm further off shore.
  • Center the TSS on the international boundary.
  • Maintain multiple approach lanes.
  • Configure approach lanes to avoid fishing grounds.
  • Create new exit lane north of buoy "J."
  • Expand the buffer around Duntze Rock.

Strait of Juan de Fuca:

  • Center TSS on international boundary.
  • Standardize the width of lanes.
  • Reduce angle of inbound dogleg.
  • Create recommended routes for slower moving vessels outside of lanes.

Port Angeles "Rotary":

  • Adjust approach to Port Angeles pilot station.
  • Define precautionary area near Victoria pilot station and link to TSS for Haro Strait.

Haro Strait and Boundary Pass:

  • Add two way traffic lanes
  • Create Turn Point precautionary area and establish special area regulations (no meeting).

Rosario Strait:

  • Expand VTS special area regulations to other routes.

Strait of Georgia:

  • Augment and align existing TSS.
  • Add connecting precautionary areas.

Other Sources

The Thirteenth Coast Guard District Public Affairs Office (dep) created this page on December 27, 1999 and last modified it June 26, 2002. This page may be reproduced locally. If any changes are needed please notify D13 (dep) at 206.220.7237. More Coast Guard information can be accessed at http://www.uscg.mil and a complete listing of these fact sheets can be found at http://www.uscg.mil/d13.