Northeast
A squid photographed in Hudson Canyon by NOAA's 2021 ROV Shakedown expedition

USA - Hudson Canyon, a giant underwater chasm, could be the newest national marine sanctuary

NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries invites the public to participate in the first step in the process to potentially designate a new national marine sanctuary off the coast of New York and New Jersey. The Wildlife Conservation Society submitted a nomination for a Hudson Canyon National Marine Sanctuary in November 2016, noting that the area provides a wide range of benefits to New York and New Jersey residents such as clean air, fresh water, recreation, and food.

Trenton – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Wednesday that it is taking the first step to designate the Hudson Canyon National Marine Sanctuary. Hudson Canyon is the largest of the more than 70 undersea canyons that line the North Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf, and is home to deep sea corals, bluefin tunas, sperm whales, sea turtles and more.

The public will have an opportunity to comment on the proposal during a 60-day public comment period, both in writing at regulations.gov and during four public meetings.  

About 100 miles southeast of New York City, Hudson Canyon is the largest underwater canyon in the U.S. portion of the Atlantic Ocean. It's also a biodiversity hotspot: home to sensitive species including sperm whales, cold-water coral and, yes, sea turtles.

Comparable in scale to the Grand Canyon, the site is occasionally more than seven miles wide and more than two miles deep at its lowest point. The site is also said to be the home of a number of shipwrecks, including freighters and U.S. military radar platforms, with some dating back to the 19th century.

Making the Hudson Canyon a sanctuary would mean that the federal government has more say in the types of activities allowed in the sanctuary. The rules will be developed after a public comment period.

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Read also

NOAA PROPOSED DESIGNATION OF HUDSON CANYON NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY

Marine protected areas in Irish waters need to be scaled up urgently, report warns, The Irish Times / June 08, 2022

The next wave of U.S. ocean conservation: Creating marine protected areas with community input, The Seattle Times / June 08, 2022

OPINION: Protecting the right 30% of our ocean, Thomson Reuters Foundation / June 08, 2022

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"The canyon's rich biodiversity is integral to the region's economy," the government said in a statement, "underpinning commercial and recreational fisheries, recreational diving, whale-watching and birding."

map of the northeast coast of the united states depicting the boundary for the proposed hudson canyon national marine sanctuary in the atlantic ocean
This visual is for reference only and does not represent an official boundary proposal from NOAA. Credit: NOAA

The newest in a big system of underwater parks

Hudson Canyon is the second marine sanctuary Biden has backed, after advancing a proposal last year for the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of central California.

Before he took office, Biden pledged to conserve 30% of U.S. land and water by 2030 — part of a global push to address climate change.

The national marine sanctuary system currently comprises 15 underwater parks and two national monuments in the United States, a network of more than 620,000 square miles of aquatic ecosystems.

"A sanctuary near one of the most densely populated areas of the Northeast U.S. would connect diverse communities across the region to the ocean and the canyon in new and different ways," Richard Spinrad, NOAA's administrator, said in a statement.

The exact boundaries of the site — and an official designation — have yet to be finalized. The public can comment on the proposal online or at a series of virtual and in-person meetings over the summer.

PUBLIC SCOPING

During the initial public comment period, NOAA will "scope out" or solicit the public's views on the proposed sanctuary designation. This is a critical step in NOAA's consideration to move forward with the process. Should designation proceed, scoping comments also assist NOAA in its future development of sanctuary designation documents, including a draft environmental impact statement, draft management plan, and proposed rulemaking.  

While NOAA will consider all relevant comments during this scoping process, we are seeking input on the following specific topics:

  • boundary options for the proposed sanctuary that strive to meet the goals identified above;
  • the location, nature, and value of natural and cultural resources in the area under consideration;
  • specific threats to these resources;
  • information on Indigenous Tribes and Nations' heritage and connections to the area;
  • the non-regulatory actions (e.g., education or research programs) NOAA should prioritize within its draft management plan for the proposed sanctuary;
  • the regulations most appropriate for management of the proposed sanctuary;
  • the benefits to the "Blue Economy" of the region, including promotion of  sustainable tourism and recreation; and
  • a permanent name for the proposed sanctuary.

SUBMITTING COMMENTS

The public can comment on the proposed action June 8, 2022, through August 8, 2022. Comments may be submitted by any one of the following methods:

Public Meetings

In order to gather public input on the proposed designation, ONMS will host virtual and in-person meetings on the dates listed below. Individuals who plan on attending the virtual public meetings to give oral comments, and any other interested parties, must register in advance of the meeting using the registration links below. Oral public comments are limited to three minutes. Public comment will be accepted during the virtual meetings by advanced registration only. In order to provide oral public comment, participants must join the webinar online. Participants can sign up to speak by typing "public comment sign up" and their name in the webinar question box at any point before public comment begins.

Virtual public meeting 1:
Date and Time: Thursday, June 23, 2022, 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. ET
Registration:https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/7151117397571941899

Virtual public meeting 2:
Date and Time: Wednesday, August 3, 2022, 5:00 PM - 7:00 p.m. ET
Registration:https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/7151117397571941899

In-person public meeting 1:
Date and Time: Tuesday, July 19, 2022, 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: Alexander Hamilton U.S. Customs House, Naval Officers Room
1 Bowling Green
New York, NY, 10004

In-person public meeting 2:
Date and Time: Thursday, July 21, 2022, 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: Monmouth University, Urban Coast Institute, Edison Building Atrium-E201
400 Cedar Ave.
West Long Branch, NJ 07764

Electronic

Submit all electronic public comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal, www.regulations.gov. The docket number is NOAA-NOS-2022-0053. Click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

Mail

LeAnn Hogan
1325 East-West Hwy, Floor 3
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Please note the docket number (NOAA-NOS-2022-0053) at the top of your comment.

For more information, contact:
LeAnn Hogan, Eastern Region Operations Coordinator
NOAA Sanctuaries Eastern Regional Office
LeAnn.Hogan@noaa.gov
(202) 731-0678

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