Federal Officials Release Long-Term Plan For Northeast Canyons And Seamounts National Monument

Fan coral in Oceanographer Canyon. Image courtesy of Northeast Canyons 2013 Science Team/NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.

OAK BLUFFS – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have released the final management plan for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, outlining a fifteen-year vision for the 3.1-million-acre sanctuary 130 miles off Cape Cod.

Hosting dozens of deep-sea corals and a plethora of endangered species, such as right and sei whales, the sanctuary was originally designated as the first of its kind in the Atlantic by former President Barack Obama in 2016, opening a lengthy and at-times contentious debate on the appropriate regulatory governance of the Monument.

During Obama’s, Trump’s, and Biden’s presidencies, each Administration was sued by commercial fishing or conservation interests over each administration’s support or opposition to large-scale fishing in the area.

According to the new mandate, the sanctuary will now be managed toward conserving its marine ecosystems while prohibiting commercial fishing and oil drilling, establishing proper staffing in collaboration with conservation partners, and conducting research and exploration of the Monument’s creatures and ecosystems, of which an estimated 50% of species remain undiscovered.

Conservationists maintain the protections, which permit recreational fishing and exempt some harvesting of crustaceans until 2023, are necessary for protecting the Monument’s resources.

The plan was developed using feedback received during a public scoping and feedback process from December 2022 to January 2023.

To view the plan, click here.

About Matthew Tomlinson

Matt Tomlinson is a Cape Cod native studying to be a documentarian. He has been with the CapeCod.com NewsCenter since 2021.

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