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Final Management Plan

NOAA Releases New Management Plan for Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

NOAA today released the final management plan for Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, which will guide the sanctuary’s resource protection and conservation efforts over the next five years.

Based on several years of scientific study, and developed with extensive public input, the new management plan focuses on key issues affecting the sanctuary, including ecosystem alteration, wildlife disturbance, vessel traffic and its potential threat to marine mammals, water quality and invasive species. Many of these issues were not well understood or recognized when the original management plan was published in 1993.

The plan also addresses sanctuary programs such as maritime heritage preservation, conservation science, enforcement, interagency cooperation, public outreach and education, and infrastructure development.

"Many people from around the world have experienced Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary through whale watches and other recreational activities," said Craig MacDonald, the sanctuary’s superintendent. "Others recognize the area’s diverse marine life, its rich maritime history and economic significance. This plan provides a roadmap for what can be done to restore and protect the sanctuary’s valuable resources for future generations."

In developing the new management plan, the sanctuary relied on data and expertise from NOAA’s Fisheries Service, and worked in consultation with many local, state, federal and non-governmental entities.

The plan also is the product of an extensive public process begun in 2000 that resulted in more than 45,500 comments provided during the public scoping and draft management plan review periods. Periodic management plan review is required by Congress for each of the 13 national marine sanctuaries and one marine national monument administered under NOAA.

Copies of the management plan on CD may be requested by calling 781-545-8026 or via email at stellwagen@noaa.gov. The plan may also be downloaded from the sanctuary’s website, http://stellwagen.noaa.gov.

Designated in 1992, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary encompasses 842 square miles of ocean, stretching between Cape Ann and Cape Cod. Renowned for its scenic beauty and remarkable productivity, the sanctuary supports a rich diversity of marine life including 22 species of marine mammals, more than 53 species of seabirds, more than 80 species of fishes, and hundreds of marine invertebrates.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us at http://www.noaa.gov or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/usnoaagov.

Click here to download the press release (pdf)

Images of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
(Click on the thumbnail to download the full-sized figure)


Whales
Two humpback whales and sea birds actively feed in the waters of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Credit: SBNMS. Photo taken under NOAA Fisheries Permit #605-1904 A humpback whale feeds near one of the many whale watching boats that visit Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary each year. Credit: Ari Friedlaender, Duke University. SBNMS file photo. Photo taken under NOAA Fisheries Permit #775-1875.
A humpback whale breaches in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Credit: SBNMS. Photo taken under NOAA Fisheries Permit #605-1904. Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is a center for marine mammal research. Two humpback whales feed near the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster, which provides a platform for multidisciplinary research. Credit: SBNMS. Photo taken under NOAA Fisheries Permit #605-1904.

Maps
Map of the National Marine Sanctuary System
Map of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, east coast of New England and western Gulf of Maine. Credit: SBNMS Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is one of 13 sanctuaries and one marine national monument administered by NOAA.

Threats
Whales and ships share the waters of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Sanctuary researchers played a key role in the effort to move the Boston shipping lanes to an area where fewer whales have historically been sighted, thereby dramatically reducing the potential for ship strikes. Credit: WCNE and SBNMS. Photo taken under NOAA Fisheries Permit # 981-1707. Bluefin tuna and many of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary’s whales feed on similar prey. At times, fishing gear has been seen caught on or entangling whales. The sanctuary is working to reduce these threats through education and outreach programs to fishermen. Credit: PCCS.
 
Abandoned or lost fishing gear can harm sanctuary resources by damaging shipwrecks and entangling animals, such as this cod. Credit: Doug Costa, SBNMS  

Maritime Heritage
The Frank A. Palmer and Louise B. Crary, two coal schooners that crashed and sank in 1902, are revealed in this side scan image. The wreck is located in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Credit: SBNMS and NURC-UConn Cups and plates from the galley of the steamship Portland, which sank in 1898, were photographed by a remotely operated vehicle. The Portland, labeled “New England’s Titanic,” sits on the seafloor of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Credit: SBNMS, NURC-UConn and The Science Channel

Biodiversity
Atlantic cod swim under a shipwreck laden with invertebrates in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Credit: SBNMS The Atlantic wolffish is one of the more than 575 species found in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Credit: NURC-UConn
A wide diversity and colorful array of marine life can be found in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. This cunner is one of more than 80 species of sanctuary fish. Credit: Tane Casserley, NOAA; SBNMS file photo. A Mola mola, or ocean sunfish, investigates a shipwreck and research diver in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Credit: SBNMS

Research
Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary’s Research Vessel Auk provides logistical support for a wide variety of research and monitoring projects. Credit: SBNMS For investigations in deeper waters where diving is not possible, sanctuary researchers use equipment, such as this remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Credit: SBNMS
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