Draft Management Plan Released For Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary

Five 40-50 foot humpback whales feed in a frenzy at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, just north of Cape Cod on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Boston Harbor Cruises/Laura Howes

HYANNIS – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently released a draft management plan and environmental assessment for the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

They’re inviting public input on the final management plan to be considered until January 21, 2022.

The sanctuary, which covers over 840 square miles of open water east of Cape Cod, is home to many species such as seabirds, lobsters and critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whales.

Developed with the Sanctuary Advisory Council and the public, the 187 page draft considered technological innovations and scientific findings to create a strategy protecting the sanctuary’s natural resources while fostering research, ocean stewardship and sustainable human activities.

“As we move into our fourth decade, sanctuary staff now have a better understanding of the ecosystem and the resources within this special place, but also find new areas of concern, such as effects of climate change and ocean noise. As is often the case, when we answer one question and begin to understand an issue, new questions arise,”said Pete DeCola, superintendent of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

The plan defines 15 action plans such as marine mammal protection, seabird research, and water quality monitoring in outlining their strategy.

“The management plan review process is a way for us to examine where we have been and where we are going,” said DeCola.

“But this is not an insular process. Public petitions helped create the sanctuary in 1992, public scoping helped guide the beginning of the management plan review process two years ago, and public comments will assist us in finalizing a plan that will guide sanctuary management for the next 10 years.”

The sanctuary’s current management plan was most recently updated in 2010.

A pair of virtual public meetings will take place on January 11, 2022 at 6 pm, and January 12, 2022 at 3 pm.

Comments may also be submitted electronically, via email or by mail.

To register for the virtual meeting, click here.

To learn more, click here.

By, Matthew Tomlinson, CapeCod.com NewsCenter


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