NOAA 2002-R420
Contact: Stephanie Balian
NOAA News Releases 2002
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The Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is opening its management plan review for public comment July 1 - October 18. The plan is found on the sanctuary Web site and a public meeting schedule will soon be posted.

The sanctuary, administered by the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Ocean Service, is undergoing a review of its management plan to assess priorities, review programs, and evaluate compliance with its legal obligation to protect the valuable marine resources. This is a routine procedure prescribed in the sanctuary's charter and is an opportunity to address current management issues.

Congress designated the 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. Its boundaries include Stellwagen Bank, all of Tillies Bank and Basin, and the southern portions of Jeffrey's Ledge.

The sanctuary is renowned as a major feeding area for marine mammals, particularly humpback whales, and supports a population of diverse wildlife. It is characterized by a unique seafloor topography of varied habitats and oceanscapes and is the final resting place an estimated 100 sunken ships. With such concentrations of diverse resources near the estimated six million people of the greater Boston metropolitan area, the sanctuary attracts extensive commercial, recreational, scientific and educational interests.

The "State of the Sanctuary" report has been produced to prepare the public for the upcoming comment period on the sanctuary management plan. For a copy of the "State of the Sanctuary report", contact the management plan review coordinator at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, 175 Edward Foster Rd., Scituate, MA 02066. Copies can be downloaded from the sanctuary Web site,

A list of dates, times and locations for the public meetings will also be available on the sanctuary Web site.

To submit comments, you may: 1) mail them to the address above; 2) fax them to (781) 545-8036; 3) e-mail them to or 4) attend the upcoming meetings in September 2002. Comments should be addressed to the attention of the Management Plan Coordinator.

The National Marine Sanctuary Program 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, NMSP is currently considering the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve for sanctuary designation. For more information about the Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, visit:

NOAA's National Ocean Service 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, please visit