NOAA 03-464
Contact: Ben Sherman
NOAA News Releases 2003
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Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, managed by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), today released its Draft Management Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement for public comment. The plan is the result of more than four years of study, planning and extensive public comment including more than 1,000 individual comments gathered at eight public scoping meetings.

Periodic management plan review is required by Congress for each of the 13 national marine sanctuaries to ensure that sanctuaries continue to best conserve, protect and enhance their nationally significant living and cultural resources while allowing compatible commercial and recreational activities.

“Active and informed public participation is the critical element of sanctuary management,” said Reed Bohne, sanctuary manager of Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. “The National Marine Sanctuary Program incorporates the public as a key resource management partner and values their input in helping shape and manage marine resources.”

In addition to producing a revised management plan, the plan review process brought together diverse stakeholders interests and expertise to shape and support new program directions that address current priority resource issues and conservation objectives.

The comment period will end on Dec. 31, 2003, by which time all comments must be received at the Sanctuary office at 10 Ocean Science Circle, Savannah, Ga. 31411.

Copies of the draft plan are available at the Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary office or by calling (912) 598-2345. The draft plan can also be reviewed at the web site; or requested by e-mail from

Copies are also available for review at the Chatham County Public Library, Main
Library 2002 Bull Street, Savannah, GA.; and other area libraries throughout the region.

Gray’s Reef was designated as a national marine sanctuary in 1981. It contains one of the largest near-shore, live-bottom reefs off the Southeastern United States, encompassing approximately 17 square nautical miles. The sanctuary supports an abundant reef fish and invertebrate community. Loggerhead sea turtles, a threatened species, use Gray’s Reef year-round for foraging and resting. The reef rests within the known winter calving ground for the highly-endangered northern right whale.

NOAA 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 conducting a sanctuary designation process to incorporate the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve into the national sanctuary system.

NOAA’s National Ocean Service manages the NMSP and is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation’s coasts and oceans. The National 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.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

On the Web:


NOAA Ocean Service:

Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary:

The review process will continue with a series of public meetings to be held at the following dates and times:

  • Monday, Nov. 17, 2003, 6:30 p.m., Town and Country Inn and Conference Center, 2008 Savannah Highway, Charleston, S.C.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2003, 6:30 p.m., Coastal Georgia Center, 305 Fahm Street, Savannah, Ga.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2003, 6:30 p.m., Quality Inn Savannah South, I-95 and Highway 204, Savannah, Ga.
  • Thursday, Nov. 20, 2003, 6:30 p.m., The Outreach Center, 515 Denmark Street, Statesboro, Ga.
  • Monday, Dec. 1, 2003, 6:30 p.m., Holiday Inn Express, 1375 Hospitality Ave., Kingsland, Ga.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2003, 6:30 p.m., Coastal Georgia Community College, 3700 Altama Avenue, Brunswick, Ga.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2003, 6:30 p.m., Coastal Electric Cooperative, 1265 South Coastal Highway, Midway, Ga.