Navigation Center
United States Coast Guard
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Port Access Route Studies

Port Access Route Studies (PARS) are done anytime the Coast Guard proposes routing changes, within the territorial seas, for any port.  The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate or adjust necessary fairways and Traffic Separation Schemes (TSS) to provide safe access routes for vessel traffic proceeding to and from ports or places that fall under the jurisdiction of the United States.  

The designation or adjustment of fairways and TSS recognizes the paramount right of navigation over all other uses in the designated areas. The Ports and Waterways Safety Act (PWSA) requires the Coast Guard to conduct a study of port access routes before establishing new or adjusting existing fairways or TSS.  

PARS is a very public process.  A Notice announcing the start of the PARS must be published in the Federal Register and public comments are taken into consideration during the study.  The Coast Guard also actively seeks and considers the views of the maritime community, environmental groups and other interested stakeholders.  A primary purpose of this coordination is, to the extent practicable, to reconcile the need for safe access routes with other reasonable waterway uses.  

In addition to aiding us in establishing new or adjusting existing fairways or TSS, the complete or modified PARS process may be used to determine and justify if safety zones, security zones, recommended routes, and regulated navigation areas should be created.