Proposed Designation of Hudson Canyon National Marine Sanctuary

NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries invites the public to participate in the first step in the process to potentially designate a new national marine sanctuary off the coast of New York and New Jersey. The Wildlife Conservation Society submitted a nomination for a Hudson Canyon National Marine Sanctuary in November 2016, noting that the area provides a wide range of benefits to New York and New Jersey residents such as clean air, fresh water, recreation, and food.

Overhead view of Hudson Canyon. The transect demonstrates the width and relief of the canyon with Empire State Building for scale.
Overhead view of Hudson Canyon. The transect demonstrates the width and relief of the canyon with Empire State Building for scale. Credit: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

About the Area Under Consideration

Hudson Canyon is the largest submarine canyon along the U.S. Atlantic coast and is one of the largest in the world. Beginning approximately 100 miles southeast of New York City, the canyon extends about 350 miles seaward, reaches depths of 2 to 2.5 miles, and is up to 7.5 miles wide. Hudson Canyon's grand scale and diverse structure—steep slopes, firm outcrops, diverse sediments, flux of nutrients, and areas of upwelling—make it an ecological hotspot for a vast array of marine wildlife.

map of the northeast coast of the united states depicting the boundary for the proposed hudson canyon national marine sanctuary in the atlantic ocean
This visual is for reference only and does not represent an official boundary proposal from NOAA. Credit: NOAA

Hudson Canyon provides habitat for a range of protected and sensitive species, including sperm whales, sea turtles, and deep-sea corals. The area's rich biodiversity is integral to the regional economy, underpinning commercial and recreational fisheries, recreational diving, whale watching, and birding. Hudson Canyon could also serve as a sentinel site for NOAA to monitor the impacts of climate change on submarine canyons, which are vulnerable to the effects of ocean acidification and oxygen depletion.

Deepwater octopus resting on the ocean bottom
Deepwater octopus, Graneledone verrucosa. Credit: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

The waters surrounding Hudson Canyon also hold historical and cultural importance to those living along its shores in New York and New Jersey. The ancestors of the Indigenous communities in this area have inhabited the region for more than 10,000 years and have relied upon the natural resources of Hudson Canyon. There are also several shipwrecks in the nominated area, with some dating to the mid-19th Century.

The primary goals of the proposed national marine sanctuary designation are to 1) support conservation of the area's marine wildlife, habitats, and maritime cultural resources, 2) work closely with Indigenous Tribes and Nations to identify and raise awareness of Indigenous connections to the area, 3) highlight and promote sustainable uses of the area, 4) expand ocean science and monitoring in, and education and awareness of the area, and 5) provide a platform for collaborative and diverse partnerships that support effective and inclusive long-term management of the area.

octocoral on a rocky canyon surface
Deepwater octocoral, Anthomastus sp. Credit: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

Public Scoping

During the initial public comment period, NOAA will "scope out" or solicit the public's views on the proposed sanctuary designation. This is a critical step in NOAA's consideration to move forward with the process. Should designation proceed, scoping comments also assist NOAA in its future development of sanctuary designation documents, including a draft environmental impact statement, draft management plan, and proposed rulemaking. 

While NOAA will consider all relevant comments during this scoping process, we are seeking input on the following specific topics:

  • boundary options for the proposed sanctuary that strive to meet the goals identified above;
  • the location, nature, and value of natural and cultural resources in the area under consideration;
  • specific threats to these resources;
  • information on Indigenous Tribes and Nations' heritage and connections to the area;
  • the non-regulatory actions (e.g., education or research programs) NOAA should prioritize within its draft management plan for the proposed sanctuary;
  • the regulations most appropriate for management of the proposed sanctuary;
  • the benefits to the "Blue Economy" of the region, including promotion of  sustainable tourism and recreation; and
  • a permanent name for the proposed sanctuary.

Submitting Comments

The public can comment on the proposed action June 8, 2022, through August 8, 2022. Comments may be submitted by any one of the following methods:

Public Meetings

In order to gather public input on the proposed designation, ONMS will host virtual and in-person meetings on the dates listed below. Individuals who plan on attending the virtual public meetings to give oral comments, and any other interested parties, must register in advance of the meeting using the registration links below. Oral public comments are limited to three minutes. Public comment will be accepted during the virtual meetings by advanced registration only. In order to provide oral public comment, participants must join the webinar online. Participants can sign up to speak by typing "public comment sign up" and their name in the webinar question box at any point before public comment begins.

Virtual public meeting 1:
Date and Time: Thursday, June 23, 2022, 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. ET
Registration:https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/7151117397571941899

Virtual public meeting 2:
Date and Time: Wednesday, August 3, 2022, 5:00 PM - 7:00 p.m. ET
Registration:https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/7151117397571941899

In-person public meeting 1:
Date and Time: Tuesday, July 19, 2022, 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: Alexander Hamilton U.S. Customs House, Naval Officers Room
1 Bowling Green
New York, NY, 10004

In-person public meeting 2:
Date and Time: Thursday, July 21, 2022, 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: Monmouth University, Urban Coast Institute, Edison Building Atrium-E201
400 Cedar Ave.
West Long Branch, NJ 07764

Electronic

Submit all electronic public comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal, www.regulations.gov. The docket number is NOAA-NOS-2022-0053. Click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

Mail

LeAnn Hogan
1325 East-West Hwy, Floor 3
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Please note the docket number (NOAA-NOS-2022-0053) at the top of your comment.

For more information, contact:
LeAnn Hogan, Eastern Region Operations Coordinator
NOAA Sanctuaries Eastern Regional Office
LeAnn.Hogan@noaa.gov
(202) 731-0678

NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary System

NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries serves as the trustee for a network of underwater parks  encompassing more than 620,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters from Washington state to the Florida Keys, and from Lake Huron to American Samoa. The network includes a system of 15 national marine sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea and Rose Atoll marine national monuments. Through the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, NOAA can identify, designate, and protect areas of the marine and Great Lakes environment that have special national significance.

national marine sanctuary system map