Under fire from New York state and local officials, the Coast Guard announced it will hold Hudson River Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment Workshops in November as part of its review of proposed barge anchorages along the river.

The Coast Guard calls its process by the acronym PAWSA, and says it has conducted 52 studies nationwide since 1999. It is a two-day structured workshop that brings together waterway users, stakeholders and government agencies to look for ways of improving safety.

At the request of the maritime industry, the Coast Guard initiated work toward establishing up to 10 designated barge anchorages on the Hudson River, a plan advocates said was needed for emergency movements — such as moving barges upriver in the event of another major storm heading to New York Harbor — and to handle anticipated traffic on the river.

That triggered a strong pushback from environmental groups, river towns, state legislators and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, which declared the proposal “unacceptable.” The Coast Guard paused, announcing in June it would initiate a new safety study.

The timeline announced Friday calls for a Nov. 7-8, a workshop will be held in the mid-Hudson region, and another Nov. 15-16 in the state capitol Albany, with locations and details yet to be determined.

“The Coast Guard is selecting participants based on their waterway expertise and to create a broad cross-section of Hudson River stakeholders. The District Commander’s goal is to build a diverse team that helps ensure everyone's concerns are represented through the PAWSA risk analysis process. The discussions will help promote navigation safety and environmental protection,” the Coast Guard First District said in its announcement.

Members of the public who want to be considered for participation in the workshops are invited to provide their name, contact information, connection to the waterway, experience, and related skills to [email protected] by Sept. 15. The Coast Guard will follow up with sending formal invitations to those it selects.

The Coast Guard will also have its own experts will host two public, online informational PAWSA webinars on Oct. 18, at 10 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.  For webinar access, participants and interested community members should log on to https://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=pawsaMain.


Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.