Proposal for New National Marine Sanctuary Receives Support from Angling Community

  • Marine protected areas (MPA’s) are area-based designations that afford some level of protection for marine and/or cultural resources. National Marine Sanctuaries are one form of MPA that can have varying levels of public and commercial use restrictions, though the majority of waters in national marine sanctuaries allow, and often promote, recreational fishing.
  • Located about 100 miles southeast of New York City, the Hudson Canyon is the largest submarine canyon along the U.S. Atlantic coast and is one of the largest in the world, offering diverse marine habitats and a popular offshore recreational fishing destination.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is accepting comments on the proposed designation of Hudson Canyon as a National Marine Sanctuary, and CSF joined others in the recreational fishing community in support the proposal, provided that regulatory authority for recreational activities remains with the regional fishery management bodies.

Why It Matters: Marine Protected Areas are useful tools for protecting marine and cultural resources, and while a very small percentage do prohibit activities like recreational fishing, the vast majority of MPA’s in U.S. waters allow and encourage recreational fishing. CSF’s position on any new MPA designation has always been that science should drive fishery management activities within a given area, and management authority should remain with state and regional fishery management bodies. The proposed Hudson Canyon National Marine Sanctuary would protect an important recreational fishing area in the Mid-Atlantic region while continuing to vest fishery management authority with the regional fishery management councils. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is currently reviewing a proposal to establish the Hudson Canyon as the newest sanctuary in the National Marine Sanctuary system. Hudson Canyon is the largest submarine canyon along the U.S. Atlantic coast and one of the largest in the world. Beginning approximately 100 miles southeast of New York City, the canyon extends about 350 miles seaward, reaching in depths of 2.5 miles, and up to 7.5 miles in width. The diverse habitat of steep slopes, outcrops, various sediment types, and areas of upwellings make it an ecological hotspot for a wide range of marine wildlife, including fish species important to recreational anglers.

Last week, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) joined a coalition on a conditional letter of support for the proposed sanctuary. As currently proposed, jurisdiction over fishery management would remain with the regional fishery management councils, primarily the Mid Atlantic Fishery Management Council. CSF has always advocated for keeping fisheries management authority with the science-based state and regional management bodies relative to any new area-based designations. Keeping management with the regional fishery management councils is paramount to the recreational community’s support of the Hudson Canyon proposal.

Well-managed recreational fishing is a compatible use of our marine resources, and the letter encourages that a clear statement to that affect be included in the sanctuary management plan. Furthermore, the coalition urged that recreational fishing be allowed in any closed areas that may be established for research purposes, unless there is a clearly defined justification and boundary. Using the expertise of recreational anglers and their vessels for research within the sanctuary would add significant value to the goals and objectives of better understanding and protecting the valuable marine resources within the area.

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