MARITIME MATTERS – December 2017
In response to the over 10,000 written comments received in connection with the Hudson River Anchorage Proposal Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the USCG First District initiated 2 Port And Waterway Safety Assessments covering the Hudson River to establish factual information regarding the status of Safety on the River. Each PAWSA was designed to follow the long-established PAWSA procedures. One PAWSA was held in Poughkeepsie, NY, and one was held in Albany, NY. Each PAWSA was attended by a roster of invitation-only stakeholders including vessel operators, terminal owners, environmentalists, local municipalities, pilots, state agencies, and others. Our commercial maritime industry was well represented at both PAWSAs. MAPONY/NJ was represented at the Albany PAWSA.
A reflection on the PAWSAs indicated that each PAWSA was successful in evidencing the high level of professionalism, training, and responsibility of our professional mariners, and the high standards of vessels and operations on the River. Many mis-representations, and intentional(?) statements were dispelled (“barge parking lots”, movement of heavy, BAKKEN crude, destruction of fish habitats, etc). Full discussions regarding PAWSA driven topics pertaining to risks, mitigations, outcomes, etc ensued.
No particular action regarding the Anchorage proposal was made, and USCG advised that they would examine the results of the 2 PAWSAs prior to resuming consideration of that proposal. PAWSA results are expected in several weeks.
The State of NJ has acted to pass legislation that would extract NJ from the bi-State Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor. The legislation, NJ S2042 (16R)/NJ A2179 (16R), cleared the NJ Senate, 38-0, on December 6, 2017. The measure has already passed out of committee and appears poised for final passage before the end of the year. Although previous versions have been vetoed by the NJ Governor, he now seems ready to sign his approval. There may still be legal hurdles regarding the ability of a single State to unilaterally withdraw from a Bi-State/Federal pact.
Federal Rec Boater Education/Training
NY (R) Congressman Peter King has introduced H.R. 4468, a bill designed to have the USCG to study and report to the Congress regarding recreational vessel operator training. The bill would require USCG to propose both how the USCG would administer any potential Federal boating education, training and testing program, and the extent to which a Federal program should be required in all waters of a State. This may shed light on the diversity of such existing State programs, and may ultimately lead to uniform standards. Issues of State jurisdiction in such matters will need to be addressed. One possible outcome could be similar to existing automotive State-issued licenses with reciprocity allowances. In consideration of the rapid growth of recreational boating in our waterways, we will continue to monitor.
HOPS Education Sub-Cttee
On November 18, 2017, our HOPs Education Sub-Committee hosted a Paddler’s Safety Symposium at the South Street Seaport. The event was attended by almost 80 persons, and included recreational paddlers, boathouse personnel, USCG Active and Auxiliary staff, and others. The topics were all safety-related operational considerations intended to enhance boating safety in the harbor.
The sub-cttee is also in process of planning to conduct a large-scale Safety/Shared Waterway event in late March of 2018. Further info will be advised as the plan evolves.
NYC City Council Hearing
On Dec 14, 2017, the NYC City Council Waterfronts Committee will hold a hearing regarding maritime industry education and employment opportunities. This hearing ensued from the very successful Maritime Career awareness Day held by NYC EDC at the Brooklyn Passenger Terminal in October.
Standup Paddle Board Event
At the 6 DEC HOPs meeting, a preliminary proposal for a Standup Paddle Board event was made by the organizers. The event would take place on Sep 15, 2018, and would entail a race course in the lower harbor for a combination of up to 400 professional, and amateur paddle boarders. The proposal is not yet permitted by the USCG, and the organizers needed to develop much more detailed planning before they could proceed. The committee gave lots of much-needed advice.