Friday, September 29, 2023

NOAA Begins Process to Designate Hudson Canyon as National Sanctuary

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has begun the process to designate Hudson Canyon as a national marine sanctuary. They are seeking public comments about the proposed boundaries and the potential name.

The Hudson Canyon begins offshore approximately 100 miles southeast of the foot of the Hudson River at the Statue of Liberty, reaching depths of 2.5 miles. It is the largest underwater canyon off the Atlantic Coast of the United States. It is also one of the largest submarine canyons in the world. It provides habitat for a range of protected and sensitive species, including sperm whales, sea turtles and deep sea corals.

The proposed sanctuary would protect deep sea corals, marine mammals, fishes, sea turtles, and seabirds, as well as species important to fisheries like squid, crabs and tunas. The designation would also permanently close Hudson Canyon to oil, gas and mineral exploration and extraction, while also allowing for responsible fishing within the boundaries of the sanctuary. The designation would also provide increased research and educational opportunities. It would be the first such designation in New York and New Jersey ocean waters, and the first in deep waters off the Mid-Atlantic Coast.

NOAA is seeking public comments on a range of management considerations, including options for the proposed sanctuary boundary, the potential name, information on the Indigenous and Tribal heritage of the area, and other factors. The public can comment on the proposed Hudson Canyon sanctuary designation until August 8, 2022, through the Federal eRulemaking Portal, The docket number is NOAA-NOS-2022-0053. In addition, NOAA will host public meetings during which members of the public can offer oral comments.

“The Mid-Atlantic region is already seeing shifts in marine species distributions, including some that are important to humans for food,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, Director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service. “Hudson Canyon could serve as a sentinel site for NOAA to monitor the impacts of climate change on submarine canyons and other deep sea benthic habitats, which are vulnerable to the effects of ocean acidification and oxygen depletion.”

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand commended NOAA’s decision to launch the designation process. “This designation would be critical to protecting the diverse marine life within Hudson Canyon, and I look forward to seeing the process through to completion,” she said. “Safeguarding these ecosystems is of paramount importance, especially with the rising threat of climate change, and I will continue working to ensure that New York’s natural treasures are preserved for future generations.”

The National Marine Sanctuaries Act allows NOAA to designate and protect areas of the ocean and Great Lakes with special national significance.

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