US Seeking to Protect Largest Underwater Canyon Off New York City For New Marine Sanctuary

An octopus, sea star, bivalves and dozens of cup coral down in Hudson Canyon, a proposed Marine Sanctuary – NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is seeking public comment on potentially designating a new national marine sanctuary in Hudson Canyon off the coast of New York and New Jersey.

A sanctuary designation would help conserve the area’s rich marine wildlife and habitats, promote sustainable economic activities and create new opportunities for scientific research, ocean education and recreation.

Hudson Canyon is the largest underwater canyon along the U.S. Atlantic Coast, and is about 100 miles out from New York and New Jersey shores. The canyon is 2.5 miles deep and up to 7.5 miles wide, and provides habitat for a range of protected and sensitive species, including sperm whales, sea turtles and deep sea corals.

The canyon’s rich biodiversity is integral to the region’s economy, underpinning commercial and recreational fisheries, recreational diving, whale-watching and birding.

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Normally a job for the Congress, or a nature-loving president, the National Marine Sanctuaries Act allows NOAA to designate and protect areas of the ocean and Great Lakes with special national significance. The sanctuary would help President Biden to reach his 30×30 agenda to conserve 30% of territorial waters and lands of the U.S. by 2030.

“A sanctuary near one of the most densely populated areas of the Northeast U.S. would connect diverse communities across the region to the ocean and the canyon in new and different ways. It would also help advance the Administration’s commitment to conserve and restore special marine places, leaving a lasting legacy for future generations,” said Rick Spinrad, Ph.D., NOAA Administrator.

“As someone who grew up in New York City and went on to a career in ocean science, I am excited about how this amazing underwater environment can inspire shared interest in conserving our ocean.”

A molamola, or sunfish in Hudson Canyon – NOAA

The Wildlife Conservation Society submitted a nomination for a Hudson Canyon National Marine Sanctuary in November 2016,

Like almost all topics dealing with American wild places and things, NOAA is opening a public comment period to invite a range of management considerations, including options for the proposed sanctuary boundary, the potential name, information on the Indigenous and Tribal heritage of the area and other factors.

“The Mid-Atlantic region is already seeing shifts in marine species distributions, including some that are important to humans for food,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service.

“Hudson Canyon could serve as a sentinel site for NOAA to monitor the impacts of climate change on submarine canyons and other deep sea benthic habitats, which are vulnerable to the effects of ocean acidification and oxygen depletion.”

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The public can comment on the proposed Hudson Canyon sanctuary designation until August 8, 2022, through the Federal eRulemaking Portal, The docket number is NOAA-NOS-2022-0053.

Ocean-loving Americans can let their voices be heard, as public comment periods are often far more effectual means of participating in democracy than calling a federally-elected official.

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