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JMPR Frequently Asked Questions

What is a sanctuary management plan and why is it being updated?

A sanctuary management plan is a site-specific planning and management document that describes the objectives, policies, and activities for a sanctuary. Management plans generally outline regulatory goals, describe boundaries, identify staffing and budget needs, set priorities and performance measures for resource protection, research, and education programs. They also guide the development of future management activities.

The National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) is required by law to periodically review sanctuary management plans to ensure that sanctuary sites continue to best conserve, protect, and enhance their nationally significant living and cultural resources. Most plans date back to their original designation date and have not been updated. Recent scientific discoveries, advancements in managing marine resources, and new resource management issues may not be addressed in existing plans.

Why are we reviewing the management plans for all three sites together?

The NMSP is reviewing all three management plans jointly. These sanctuaries are located adjacent to one another, managed by the same program, and share many of the same resources and issues. In addition, all three sites share many overlapping interest and user groups. It is also more cost-effective for the program to review the three sites jointly rather than conducting three independent reviews. During the review, the sanctuaries evaluate management and operational strategies, regulations, and boundaries. The review looks at whether the management programs at all three sanctuaries can be better coordinated.


What are the steps for the review?

The NMSP periodically reviews sanctuary management plans relying on public input from both local and national communities. This process begins with the release of a "State of the Sanctuary" report that provides information to the public about the sanctuary, its accomplishments, and current resource management issues. Following the release of these reports, the sanctuaries hold public scoping meetings, develop action plans, and prepare a draft management plan. The draft management plan is supported by proposed rules, which lay out any proposed regulatory changes, and a draft environmental impact statement, which analyzes potential impacts from modified and new regulations, as well as impacts from a range of alternatives. Formal public hearings on the draft documents will help staff develop final plans, which, once approved, will outline the sanctuaries' priorities for the next 5-10 years.

Scoping Meetings: Sanctuary staff held public scoping meetings in communities adjacent to the sanctuaries in late 2001 and early 2002. The meetings allowed sanctuary users, members of the public, and agencies to comment on each of the three sanctuary management strategies and provide input on what issues and problems they see as management priorities for the next 5 to 10 years. Comments were also sent to the NMSP through the website or in writing.

Action Plans: After the scoping meetings, sanctuary staff reviewed all comments and worked with their Sanctuary Advisory Councils and the public to prioritize issues for the management plan review. As necessary, additional workshops were scheduled to help sanctuary staff develop tailored action plans that address priority issues. These action plans form the foundation of the draft management plan.

Draft Management Plans, Proposed Rules and Draft Environmental Impact Statement: The Draft Management Plans contain a series of action plans that address resource protection and general management. Proposed Rules lay out specific proposed regulatory changes. A supporting environmental document, known as an Environmental Impact Statement, has also been prepared to support and explain any changes.The sanctuaries will take written comments and host a series of public hearings on the draft plans. After the close of the public comment period, the NMSP will review comments and make necessary changes before issuing final management plans.

Final Environmental Impact Statement, Final Rule, Regulations: The Final Environmental Impact Statement is issued after the public comment and hearing period. NMSP carefully reviews and responds to all substantive comments collected during the public comment period. Approximately 30 days after the Final Environmental Impact Statement is release, The Final Rule containing the revised final regulations for each of the sites, is published in the Federal Register. At this point the revised regulations become part of the Code of Federal Regulations. After a cooling off period, the revised regulations will become effective in mid-March, 2009. NOAA will place a second notice in the Federal Register when the exact effective date is known.


What is a Management Plan? | Why Review All Three At Once?
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