PORTSMOUTH, Va., Dec. 29 (UPI) -- The U.S. Coast Guard says it will study marine traffic along the Atlantic coast to determine how planned offshore wind farms could affect maritime navigation.
The study, to extend from Maine to Florida, is the first to examine waters beyond port entrances where the Coast Guard routinely monitors vessel traffic, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot reported Thursday.
The Coast Guard said it is seeking input from maritime industries, commercial watermen and recreational boaters who operate within 200 nautical miles of the East Coast.
"What we're doing is identifying all of the uses of the water now so we can plan for the future," said John Walters, chief of the waterways management section for the Coast Guard's 5th District, based in Portsmouth. Va.
Officials said they decided to initiate the study a year ago, around the time the U.S. Department of the Interior announced so-called "wind energy areas" off the coasts of several Atlantic states, including Virginia.
Some of the wind energy areas "are located in or very near the traditional routes used by vessels in foreign trade and on Atlantic coastwise transits," the Coast Guard said.
While no offshore wind farms are operational yet, more than a dozen are at various stages of development.