SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Following the replacement last year of traditional fog detectors with mariner-activated fog detectors at 17 remote Maine lighthouses, the U.S. Coast Guard hopes to install seven additional Mariner Radio Activated Sound Signals at other lighthouses along the Maine coast.
The move is designed to reduce negative effects of continuous foghorns on area wildlife — in particular, migratory birds — and residents of the areas.
Initially, it prompted safety concerns among some boaters, leading the Coast Guard to broaden its public education efforts.
In 2016, the Coast Guard replaced 17 fog detectors along the coast with the radio-activated sound signal devices, which allow mariners to activate lighthouse sound signals on-demand with a marine radio, Lt. David Bourbeau, spokesman for Coast Guard Sector Northern New England in South Portland, said in a release.
Now they propose installing in May another seven at Halfway Rock, Matinicus Rock, Mt. Desert Rock, Great Duck Island, Petit Manan Island, Libby Island and the Little River Lighthouse.
Instead of the foghorns sounding continuously 24 hours a day, seven days a week, mariners can activate the sound signal when needed by keying the microphone of a standard VHF-FM radio five times on channel 83A, according to the release. Once activated, the current sound signal type will remain unchanged, and it will shut off after 60 minutes.
“This change will allow us to reduce our overall footprint by decreasing the required number of solar panels and lead acid batteries onsite when compared to the current configuration,” Capt. Michael Baroody, Commander of Coast Guard Sector Northern New England, said in the release. “It will not alter the light characteristics, equipment, or patterns; it only changes the method used to activate the sound signal.”
The Coast Guard plans outreach to harbormasters and others to solicit public comment and provide public safety and awareness before the installation.