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Press Release | April 16, 2024

Coast Guard seeks public comment regarding proposed slow speed zone in Miami

MIAMI – The Coast Guard is seeking comment on a potential regulated navigation area for certain waters surrounding Port Miami. The notice was published in the federal register, Thursday.

The current proposal in consideration would establish a slow speed zone throughout Fisherman's Channel and the Main Ship Channel for vessels less than 150 meters in length.

The Coast Guard determined there is an increase in navigational risk in certain waterways in proximity to Port Miami as the port continues to expand and vessel traffic increases. In early May 2023, the Coast Guard Navigation Center and Coast Guard Sector Miami held a ports and waterways safety assessment with key local stakeholders. As a result, the workshop identified the high speed of vessels and wakes created by increased vessel traffic to be among the most concerning hazards associated with the port.

The Coast Guard received reports of an increasing number of incidents as vessel traffic has increased. On June 25, 2023, around 3:30 a.m., a recreational vessel traveling at a high rate of speed through the main ship channel collided with a vehicle ferry. This incident resulted in loss of life and impacted the movement of passenger and cargo vessels in Port Miami over a 12-hour period. Additionally, on February 12, 2024, a recreational vessel collided with an inspected passenger vessel in Fisherman's Channel. This incident resulted in 13 injuries. With the creation of a regulated navigation area, the Coast Guard intends to reduce the navigational risk associated with high-speed vessel operations in a densely trafficked waterway.

In addition to these incidents, Port Miami is expanding its cruise ship terminals and expects vessel and passenger throughput increases over the next several years. This increase in passenger service, accompanied by an increase in Liquified Natural Gas bunkering operations in the port, introduces a new set of operational risks in the area.

These risks, in combination with the criticality of this port to the local and regional economy, form the basis for evaluation of additional measures to enhance navigation safety. The establishment of a regulated navigation area is expected to promote improvements to vessel traffic management, reduce high speed operations and enhance navigation safety.

“The channels surrounding Port Miami are dynamic, heavily trafficked waterways,” said Cmdr. Dale Cressman, Coast Guard Sector Miami chief of prevention. “Policies requiring smaller vessels to slow down while transiting these congested waters could save lives and be a valuable regulatory tool to help the Coast Guard and our port partners maintain the safety of the port for all recreational and commercial boaters.”

The Coast Guard is soliciting public comments in response to this notice of inquiry through the Federal Decision-Making Portal. To submit comments, go to, type ‘USCG-2024-0205’ in the search box and click ‘Search.’ Next, look for this document in the search results column, and click on it. Then click on the ‘Comment’ option. In your submission, please include the docket number for this notice of inquiry and provide a reason justifying each suggestion or recommendation. Comments and related material must be received by the Coast Guard on or before May 13.

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