Sanctuary Management Plan - Research
Context for Management
management of the Sanctuary requires a research program which
addresses management issues. Understanding the relationships
and interactions among system components, and how the system
functions as an ecological unit are critical to developing effective
solutions to management problems. Research supported by SRD
will primarily be directed toward improving understanding of
the Sanctuary system, and how Sanctuary resources may be affected
by human activities. The general framework for research program
activities and the process for preparation of an annual Sanctuary
Research Plan are discussed below.
for Research Program
Sanctuary Research Program will consist of three primary project
studies to determine: features and processes of the environment;
abundance, distribution, and interactions among the living resources;
and patterns of human activities;
monitoring studies to document changes in ecology, environmental
quality, and human activities in the Sanctuary; and
predictive studies to assess causes and effects of ecological
and environmental changes, and to anticipate management issues.
baseline studies will focus on gaining enhanced knowledge and
better understanding of Sanctuary ecology. Cyclic biological
productivity levels of the Stellwagen Bank system are subject
to changes due to a variety of factors. For example, in recent
years, variations in the availability of food sources have contributed
to periodic changes in the distribution of cetacean feeding
patterns, and may also have contributed to the relative success
of commercial fishing efforts. A better understanding of productivity
cycles will provide a basis for better understanding of relationships
among the Sanctuary's living resources, and the effects of variations
in those cycles.
addition to data bases documenting plant, animal, and non-living
components of the Sanctuary, successful management requires
knowledge and understanding of long-term changes occurring within
the Stellwagen Bank system. Continuing monitoring programs could
provide the means to such understanding. Ecological changes
and trends may be detected through monitoring data which provide
indicators of the relative health of Sanctuary resources.
monitoring program should include pollution monitoring studies,
and studies on species population dynamics as indicators of
species' response to natural or human-caused threats to the
monitoring studies should include fluctuations in cetacean and
seabird abundance and relative effects of sport fishing, commercial
fishing, and whalewatch activities.
needed, the Sanctuary research program will also conduct focused
predictive studies, analyze the causes and consequences of system
changes, and predict the effects on the system of new or increased
levels of human activity. For instance, possible areas of predictive
study might include: the effects of increased boating traffic
on marine mammals.
and Management of Research Projects
research projects funded by SRD will address the resolution
of management issues and concerns. The Sanctuary Manager and
SRD staff will follow research selection procedures established
by SRD to ensure that the Sanctuary's research program is consistent
with the policies and directions of the National Marine Sanctuary
Program. Research selection procedures include: preparing an
annual Sanctuary Research Plan (SRP); and monitoring progress
on research conducted in the Sanctuary.
Sanctuary Research Plan (SRP)
Sanctuary Research Plan (SRP) will be prepared each year. Annual
Research Plans for individual National Marine Sanctuaries are
incorporated into a National Research Plan for the overall National
Marine Sanctuary Program. The annual research planning process
involves the following steps:
management concerns are identified, with supporting evidence
priorities are established, based upon the identification of
management concerns. Research priorities are established by
the Sanctuary Manager, in consultation with SRD. Important factors
to be considered in establishing research priorities include:
immediate or evolving management issues which can be resolved
through directed research;
of related research in progress; and
of funding and equipment for research support.
the identification of management concerns, a research announcement
and request for detailed research proposals is prepared. The
announcement and request for proposals discusses the identified
management concerns, and summarizes past and current related
research. Occasionally research workshops are conducted to facilitate
the identification of research problems.
draft SRP is prepared based on suggestions generated by the
announcement, workshops or other means. A list of proposed research
projects is presented in the draft SRP, with supporting discussion
The draft SRP is forwarded to SRD and circulated for peer
A final SRP is prepared, documenting how proposed research
projects meet the national selection criteria.
final SRP is forwarded to SRD; and it is incorporated into the
National Marine Sanctuary Program Research Plan. The highest
ranking proposed research projects are selected from the National
Plan, and procurement schedules are then prepared.
instances where a research proposal entails activities prohibited
by Sanctuary regulations, a research permit may be issued by
NOAA upon separate application by the researchers. Alternatively,
SRD may determine that all or part of the research should be
not conducted inside the Sanctuary's boundary. Research activities
involving threatened, endangered, or otherwise protected species
may require additional permits from other agencies.
Project Monitoring Program
a routine activity, the Sanctuary Manager will monitor the performance
of researchers conducting research activities in the Sanctuary.
The Sanctuary Manager will also maintain records of all current
research, equipment being used on site, frequency of researchers'
visits on site, and current progress on each project. Interim
progress reports and final reports by the researcher to SRD
and the Sanctuary Manager are required to ensure adherence to
schedules outlined in the terms of the contract. Final research
reports may be reviewed by scientists recognized in the particular
field of research, as well as by resource managers before final
approval of the report by SRD. Particularly outstanding research
reports may be published by SRD in the NOS/SRD Technical Report
encourages Sanctuary research funded by other sources to complement
research directly funded by NOAA. To assist in this research
exchange effort, SRD will make Sanctuary research data bases
derived from past and ongoing research projects available to
other agencies and private institutions.