Annual ice-breaking operations have started on Lake Superior and all of the western Great Lakes, the U.S. Coast Guard announced Friday.

Known as Operation Taconite, the project is the Coast Guard's largest domestic ice-breaking operation, encompassing the St. Marys River, the Straits of Mackinac and Lake Michigan as well as Lake Superior, according to a Coast Guard news release.

It includes the Duluth-based cutter Alder, which on Friday was directed to manage ice-breaking in western Lake Superior - specifically the Duluth-Superior Harbor and Thunder Bay.

The cutter Biscayne Bay, out of St. Ignace, Mich., was sent to break ice in the St. Marys River. Additional icebreakers will join the work in coming days and weeks.

Recreational users are reminded to plan their activities carefully, use caution on the ice and stay away from shipping channels, the Coast Guard said.