Ensuring Access and Public Safety
Many people in Hawaii and Southern California use and depend on the ocean for commercial and recreational purposes. The ocean areas within the Hawaii Range Complex, for example, are used for a variety of recreational activities, such as charter and tour boats, surfing, fishing and diving. The ocean and nearshore areas are also used for subsistence fishing by local residents. The waters around San Clemente Island, part of the Southern California Range Complex, are popular for commercial and sport fishing, recreational diving and other recreational activities, which are important social and economic activities. These industries support large numbers of fishermen, boat operators and recreational boaters. The ocean areas of both range complexes also support other important activities related to shipping, scientific, cultural and institutional purposes.
Public Safety Measures
While commercial and recreational activities are important to the users around Hawaii and Southern California, it is also important for Navy personnel to train realistically to protect themselves, the United States and its allies. The Navy strives to conduct its activities in a manner that is compatible with commercial and recreational ocean and airspace users. The Navy is committed to providing continued access to surface water areas and airspace in the north central Pacific Ocean. However, for the public’s safety, the use of certain ocean areas may need to be temporarily limited during some training and testing activities. With the exception of exclusive use or restricted areas, the public has access during periods when military activities are not scheduled.
The Navy provides advance notice of their training and testing schedules to federal regulatory agencies, which helps the public to plan accordingly and ensures safety. Ocean users are able to access the U.S. Coast Guard’s Local Notices to Mariners website. The published schedules notify the public and allow them to adjust their routes to avoid temporarily restricted areas. Temporary access restrictions (usually lasting between two to six hours) occur when the Navy restricts public use of certain ocean areas during training or testing activities for the safety of commercial and recreational users.
If civilian vessels are within a restricted area at the time of a scheduled activity, Navy personnel will continue activities and avoid the vessels if it is safe and possible to do so. If avoidance is not safe or possible, the Navy activity may relocate or be delayed. In some instances where safety requires exclusive use of a specific area, civilian users in the area will be asked to relocate to a safer area for the duration of the activity.