September 17, 2002

NOAA 02-R433

Contact: Anne Smrcina, 781-545-8026 x204

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced today it will hold a series of public meetings throughout New England to help them evaluate the regulations, boundaries, and strategies for the management and operation of the Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. The meetings are part of the process by which the sanctuary and the public evaluate sanctuary operations every five years. NOAA is an agency of the Commerce Department.

Sanctuary staff will hold the public scoping meetings in communities along the New England coast, beginning in Mystic, Conn., Sept. 24, and ending with a meeting in Plymouth, Mass., on Oct. 5. Scoping meetings provide an opportunity for the public to make direct comments on issues related to the region and management of the sanctuary's natural and cultural resources, as well as overall sanctuary administration. The public comment period will remain open until Oct. 18, 2002.

Public Meeting Schedule:

Sept. 24 - Mystic, Conn., 7 p.m., Mystic Aquarium

Sept. 25 - New Bedford, Mass., 7 p.m., Whaling Museum, 18 Johnny Cake Hill

Sept. 26 - Provincetown, Mass., 7 p.m., Town Hall Aud., 260 Commercial St.

Sept. 28 - Falmouth, Mass., 10 a.m., Sea Education Assn, 177 Woods Hole Rd.

Sept. 30 - Gloucester, Mass., 7 p.m., Gloucester City Hall Council Ch., 9 Dale Ave.

Oct. 1 - Portland, Maine, 7 p.m., Univ. of Maine School of Law, 246 Deering Ave.

Oct. 2 - Portsmouth, N.H., 7 p.m., Yokens Restaurant & Conference Center, Rte. 1, S. 1390 Lafayette Rd.

Oct. 3 - Boston, Mass., 7 p.m., New England Aquarium, Central Wharf

Oct. 5 - Plymouth, Mass., 11 a.m., Plymouth Public Library, 132 South Street

In preparation for the meetings, a State of the Sanctuary report is available online or in hard copy at the sanctuary office in Scituate, Mass. The report provides information about the sanctuary, its significant accomplishments and the current resource management issues of concern.

Congress designated the Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in 1992 as "an area of special national significance." Virtually the size of the state of Rhode Island, the sanctuary stretches between Cape Ann and Cape Cod in federal waters off of Massachusetts. The sanctuary is renowned as a major feeding area for marine mammals, particularly humpback whales, and supports an ecosystem of diverse wildlife.

NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) seeks to increase the public awareness of America's maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration, and educational programs. Today, 13 national marine sanctuaries encompass more than 18,000 square miles of America's ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources. In addition, the NMSP is now conducting a sanctuary designation process to incorporate the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve into the national sanctuary system. For more information about the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, please visit

NOAA's National Ocean Service (NOAA Ocean Service) manages the National Marine Sanctuary Program and is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving, and restoring the nation's coasts and oceans. NOAA Ocean Service balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats, and mitigating coastal hazards. To learn more about NOAA Ocean Service and the National Marine Sanctuary Program, please visit



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