Hudson River anchorages: It’s time to stand up for the river again

Written by Riverkeeper 10/3/23

Recent Coast Guard bulletin unlawfully allows vessels to anchor virtually anywhere north of the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge; Riverkeeper takes steps to protect aquatic life, critical habitat areas, and Hudson River drinking water supplies.

Oil barge at Kinston

Oil barge at Kingston (Carolyn Marks Blackwood)

In 2016, communities throughout the Hudson Valley united in opposition to a maritime industry request to vastly expand the designated areas in the Hudson River where commercial vessels are allowed to anchor.

Riverkeeper and the public made clear that we want strict limits on where, and for how long, commercial vessels are allowed to anchor in the Hudson River. Potential spills of hazardous cargo and threats to endangered sturgeon were among the top concerns. At the time, the tug and barge industry was eyeing a surge in crude oil shipments from the Midwest. The public outcry was huge: The Coast Guard received an unprecedented 10,212 comments, overwhelmingly opposed to the tug and barge industry’s request for 43 new berths in 10 locations along the river. In addition, dozens of local resolutions and numerous letters came from state, county and municipal governments, objecting to the proposal.

The industry’s request went nowhere, and so anchorage grounds – formally-designated anchoring locations – north of the Cuomo Bridge continued to be limited to just one location off Hyde Park.

Now, in 2023, all of that is changing.

What the Coast Guard is saying

The Coast Guard has reviewed the basis for regulations governing anchoring in the Hudson River. That review has resulted in significant changes:

  • The Coast Guard issued an information bulletin (MSIB 2023-001) on July 25, 2023 which suddenly redefined the Port of New York to only include the Hudson River as far north as the Cuomo Bridge at Tarrytown, instead of the Port of Albany.
  • The area north of the Cuomo Bridge is now outside the port, and is now subject to the Coast Guard’s “Inland Navigation Rules.” Under these rules, any vessel may anchor virtually anywhere for any duration, providing they do not interfere with traffic and have the required nighttime lighting.