Marine Vessel Traffic
Large commercial vessels currently use trans Pacific and other transportation routes through the Bering Sea and pose a variety of significant environmental risks to ABSI resources and services including contaminant spills, disturbance of marine mammals and seabird habitat, invasive species introductions and direct mortalities resulting from collisions. In the North Pacific, a great circle route from Seattle, Washington, to Yokohama, Japan passes through Unimak Pass and the western Aleutian Islands. It crosses the transit lanes and fishing grounds of the largest fisheries in North America, as well as the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge (home to 40 million seabirds and numerous marine mammals). As many as 9-12 vessels per day use this route through the Aleutian Archipelago at Unimak Pass, with many continuing on and passing west of Tanaga Island. A second great circle companion route passes south of the Aleutians and is generally used for voyages from East Asia to North America. Assuming trade continues to expand between Asian markets and the U.S., traffic will likely increase in coming years. In addition to these well-travelled routes, traffic through the Bering Strait is currently 0.66-0.71 vessels per day and will likely increase as transpolar routes become more accessible due to reduced summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean.