Olympic Coast Area To Be Avoided

map showing the area to be avoided off the washingtion coast
Olympic Coast Area-To-Be-Avoided (ATBA) flyer

The Olympic Coast Area-To-Be-Avoided (ATBA) is a voluntary measure that directs large vessel traffic to stay approximately 25 miles offshore of the ecologically-sensitive and dangerous operating environment of the rugged Olympic Coast.

The sanctuary, designated in May 1994, worked with the U.S. Coast Guard to request the International Maritime Organization (IMO) designate an Area to be Avoided (ATBA) on the Olympic Coast. The IMO defines an ATBA as "a routeing measure comprising an area within defined limits in which either navigation is particularly hazardous or it is exceptionally important to avoid casualties and which should be avoided by all ships, or certain classes of ships". This ATBA was adopted by the IMO in December 1994, "in order to reduce the risk of marine casualty and resulting pollution and damage to the environment of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary." The ATBA went into effect in June 1995, and has been updated in 2002 and in 2012.

The most recent change to the ATBA, effective on December 1, 2012, advises operators of vessels carrying oil or hazardous materials as cargo or cargo residue, and all ships 400 gross tons and above to maintain a 25-mile buffer from the coast. The ATBA provisions recognize that some vessels greater than 400 gross tons may be engaged in allowable activities that occur predominantly within the sanctuary, e.g. fishing or research. Thus the ATBA is targeted at vessels that are transiting through the area versus conducting operations.

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary has created an education and monitoring program with the goal of ensuring the successful implementation of the ATBA. This includes ensuring that updated information on the ATBA is placed on nautical charts and publications. Sanctuary staff worked closely with industry and government agencies to develop an ATBA flyer which is distributed to vessel owners and managers that transit the area.

Compliance with the ATBA is monitored in a cooperative program jointly operated by the Canadian Coast Guard and the United States Coast Guard. Vessel tracking data is provided to the sanctuary, compiled and analyzed to detect trends in compliance and to identify vessels that enter the ATBA. Compliance reports can be downloaded from our Vessel Traffic Monitoring section.