Conservation Policy Development

photo of cliffs and water

The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries has developed conservation policy or permit guidance for the following resource protection issues:

The ONMS answers the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to alternative energy and oil and gas policy decisions in national marine sanctuaries. Download the ONMS Alternative Energy & Oil and Gas FAQ document here

  1. Conservation policy is a standing decision made to provide direction and/or guidance for conservation management actions for the ONMS.

  1. The Director of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries issues policy statements that describe the issue, provide background on ONMS involvement in the issue, and provide a conservation policy statement to guide ONMS actions regarding that issue.

  1. ONMS conservation policy is developed through the process outlined in the ONMS conservation policy development framework, described in the chart below. The following text provides more details on each step of the framework.

    conservation policy framework chart

  1. At least once a year, a listing of issues emerging from Management Plan Reviews, ONMS permits, petitions submitted to the ONMS, or other applicable ONMS management activities is prepared. This list describes each issue and provides a summary of what is known about the issue to date. The list is then reviewed and evaluated by the ONMS Executive Team, which prioritizes the issues to be processed through the framework.

  1. The ONMS Executive Team includes the ONMS Director, Deputy Director, Senior Policy Advisors, Chief of Staff, Regional Superintendents and Branch Chiefs.

  1. Conservation policy documents are prepared by CPPB and vetted through a variety of review bodies, potentially including working groups (both internal and external), sanctuary advisory councils, Sanctuary Superintendents and the ONMS Executive Team. After reviews, the Conservation Policy and Planning Branch will make a recommendation to the Director. The Director makes the final policy decision.

  1. Depending on the nature of the policy issue, the ONMS may seek public comment either through sanctuary advisory councils or more formally through a Federal Register notice. Additionally, actions resulting from a policy decision, such as regulations, may also provide for or require an opportunity for public comment.