Popular Articles
  1. Equipment and Systems
  3. About the VTS
 »  Home  »  Bulletins  »  Marine Safety Information Bulletin 11-09
Marine Safety Information Bulletin 11-09
by Ray Law | Published  11/06/2009

U. S. Coast Guard
Sector Los Angeles – Long Beach


Los Angeles / Long Beach harbor Safety Committee 

Voluntary Western Traffic Lanes

There has been a recent trend in traffic patterns where some vessel operators are choosing to depart
the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) established in the Santa Barbara Channel and transit through
an area to the south of San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands (referenced herein as “sou
th"of the Channel Islands”).  As such, the Los Angeles / Long Beach Harbor Safety Committee has
published voluntary western traffic lanes for vessels approaching and departing the Ports of Los
Angeles and Long Beach.

Mariners transiting through the western and northern approaches to and from the Ports of Los
Angeles and Long Beach (LA/LB) are advised the established TSS through the Santa Barbara
Channel as shown on NOAA and Admiralty charts is the only International Maritime Organization
(IMO) approved routing measure in this area. An IMO approved TSS reduces the risk of collision providing
for the separation of arriving and departing traffic and minimizing potentially hazardous crossing situations.
Mariners, who have traditionally used this approved TSS, are encouraged to continue to do so.

Voluntary Western Traffic Lanes

To address the safety concerns created by increased traffic south of the Channel Islands, on October
6, 2009, the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Safety Committee (LA/LB HSC) endorsed voluntary
traffic lanes in the area south of the Channel Islands (referenced herein as “voluntary western traffic
lanes")The LA/LB HSC developed theses lanes as a voluntary measure to promote vessel safety.
The voluntary western traffic lanes were not developed using processes established under U.S.
federal law or by the IMO. As such, these lanes have not been reviewed nor approved by any U.S.
federal authority, including the U.S. Coast Guard, or the IMO. The Coast Guard is taking separate
action to study the increased traffic in this area, which will include an opportunity for the public to
The geographical coordinates for the voluntary western traffic lanes are published by the LA/LB
HSC secretary at http://www.mxsocal.org/Blogs/24/Voluntary-Routing-Zones.aspx

Since the new voluntary western traffic lanes are not an IMO approved traffic separation scheme,
the International Regulations for Avoiding Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) Rule 10 does not apply.

Mariners should exercise due caution when choosing to operate south of the Channel Islands and
within the voluntary western traffic lanes.


Pacific Missile Test Range, Point Magu

Departing the IMO approved TSS and transiting south of the Channel Islands may result in delays
and diversions, as this transit will take vessels through the Pacific Missile Test Range, Point Mugu,
California. The U.S. Navy advises that hazardous operations may take place within the test
range. The test range extends for 180 miles in a South West direction from Point Mugu and is up
to 210 miles wide. The specific hazardous areas within the range are broadcast by the Navy daily
Monday through Friday at 0900 and 1200 on 2638 kHz and 2738 kHz.  When notified by the Navy,
the Coast Guard also broadcasts this information on VHF-FM channel 16
When transiting south of the Channel Islands (inbound or outbound to the Ports of Los Angeles and
Long Beach), all mariners should communicate with Navy PLEAD CONTROL in a timely manner
so that early decisions can be made regarding safe routing. Every effort should be made to comply
fully with any instructions received from the Navy. For information regarding the status of current
hazardous operations contact “PLEAD CONTROL” on VHF Marine channel 11 or 16, or at (805)
989-8841/8843 from 0600-1800, and at (805) 816-0792 after 1800. If you are unable to contact“PLEAD CONTROL”, contact “SAN PEDRO TRAFFIC” on VHF-FM channel 14 or (310) 832
6411 for the most recent information regarding hazardous military operations"

The Navy requests all vessels transiting the range to submit a notification to PLEAD CONTROL
indicating the vessel name, destination, and estimated time of entry into, and departure from, the
test range. Notifications can be faxed to (805) 989-0102


Mariners are further reminded that large whales, including Blue, Gray, Humpback, and Fin was well as other
marine mammals, have been sighted in and around the Channel Islands, boththe TSS established in the Santa Barbara Channel as well as in the area south of the Channel
Islands. These whales are all protected under federal law and some are listed as endangered
species. Please report any collisions with whales or any observed live,injured, or dead whales,
including time and position, to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA) at 877-SOS-WHALe (877-767-9425) or the Coast Guard.

 Recreational and Fishing Vessels

The area to the south of the Channel Islands is also used by both commercial fishing vessels and
revessels, whose operators may not be aware of the new voluntary western traffic lanes or that ship
traffic has recently increased in this area.


Questions relating to the voluntary western traffic lanes should be directed to the LA/LB HSC
Secretary at (310) 832-6411