Problem Avoidance: Preventing Oils Spills Before They Happen
With its high volume of vessel traffic, oil spills have always been a concern in the Olympic Peninsula area of Washington. Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary met this challenge with the establishment of an Area To Be Avoided (ATBA), an international designation that requests large vessels to avoid the sanctuary except for specific lanes set aside to enter and depart the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound. Though voluntary, the ATBA enjoys a nearly 100% compliance rate. No significant oil spills have occurred in the sanctuary since the ATBA went into effect.
ATBAs, in association with Particularly Sensitive Sea Area designations, are also in place for Florida Keys and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuaries (1990 and 1991), and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (2008). Protective measures in the Florida Keys include restricting large ship traffic in parts of the sanctuary, which has resulted in a significant decrease in the number of major ship groundings on coral reefs. Protective measures in Papahānaumokuākea include expanded areas to be avoided and preferred shipping routes clearly marked on international nautical charts as well as mandatory notification criteria for most ships transiting the monument.