Maintaining Crabber/Towboat Lane Agreements

Conflicts between ocean-going tugs and commercial crabbers in Washington, Oregon and California were a major problem in the late 1970s. Crab pots fouled tugs as they moved between coastal ports, and the loss of their gear was a severe economic loss for crab boat owners. 

Sea Grant programs on the West Coast helped broker an agreement that provided navigable towboat and barge lanes through the crabbing grounds between Cape Flattery and San Francisco. Washington Sea Grant took a leadership role in the late 1990s that remains pivotal in saving these industries hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.


2012-13 Towlane Charts for Crabbers and Towboats – Cape Flattery to San Francisco


A slight modification to the towlane at Cape Alava is now in effect to reduce conflicts between vessel traffic and fishing gear. Please see the following PDF files for detailed information:


Data Files

For your convenience, Washington Sea Grant has made available electronic data files for commercial crabber and towboat towlane charts. Nobeltec data comes in a single text file; the other two formats entailed larger files, and so we compressed those into two different formats for downloading. Note: Please note lane change information for Cape Alava above.

Please note:

  1. The following links provide access to data files; depending on application, they will be binary (e.g., .zip or .sitx) or text (i.e., .txt). You must download the appropriate file (Maptech, Nobeltec or WindPlot), decompress if it is a .zip or .sitx format, and import it into the appropriate program.
  2. Most contemporary operating systems come with file decompression applications, enabling the downloaded file to either open automatically or open upon double-clicking it. You can also obtain a version of the program required to decompress these files online (some are free; others are fee-based).
  3. Color key: blue = summer-only lanes; red = advisory only lanes.
Download Data Files
Software text zip sitx nob
Maptech   Download
Rose Point ECS/
Coastal Explorer
Nobeltec Data Download*
Windplot   Download
*Nobeltec loading instructions

2014 Proposed Towlane Changes - Oregon Coast

If you require the towlane chart data in printed form, please contact Steve C. Harbell, Marine Resources Agent, 360.875.9331, If you have trouble accessing the data, please contact Marcus Duke, Computer Systems Administrator/Web Editor, 206.685.0171,