CLF calls on NOAA to advance proposal to establish dedicated Ecological Research Area in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

On Wednesday, September 14, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary presented a groundbreaking proposal to establish a dedicated ecological research area within the Sanctuary’s boundaries to study the area’s diverse ecosystem. Although the Sanctuary’s multi-stakeholder Advisory Council voted strongly in favor of the proposal, NOAA officials decided not to send the proposal on to the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) for further review.

A NOAA diver studies anemones and other marine live covering a wreck in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (Photo credit: Matthew Lawrence, NOAA Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary).

Yesterday, Priscilla Brooks, Ph.D., director of CLF’s Ocean Conservation program, said, “The proposal by the Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary staff to establish a Sanctuary Ecological Research Area is a bold step forward in the Sanctuary’s stewardship of this national treasure. This incredibly rich ecosystem and the close location of the Sanctuary to New England’s world-renowned marine science research institutions and ports makes Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary an excellent choice for a dedicated research area where scientists can study and learn more about New England’s greatest natural resource – our ocean.

Given the public release of this proposal and the support of Sanctuary Advisory Council, we are baffled that NOAA would then decide not to move the proposal forward to the New England Fishery Management Council for further public and stakeholder consideration and a final decision on the proposal. NOAA’s erratic decision is confusing and disappointing to citizens and scientists who have long supported the Sanctuary’s efforts and indicates an inexplicable willingness by NOAA to put the scientific management and stewardship of Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary on the back burner.

We applaud the very good effort by the staff at the Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary. NOAA now needs to move the proposal forward and submit it for review by the Fishery Management Council.”

To read the full statement, click here.

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