Jun 8, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden wants to create new marine sanctuary off New York

An octopus, sea star, bivalves and dozens of cup coral
An octopus, sea star, bivalves and dozens of cup coral in an area adjacent to the Hudson Canyon off the coast of New York and New Jersey. Photo: NOAA/BOEM/USGS

The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it has started the process to designate the Hudson Canyon, an underwater canyon about 100 miles off the coast of New York and New Jersey, as a marine sanctuary.

Why it matters: The designation would provide new protections to the Hudson Canyon, which is home to a diverse range of "endangered, protected, and sensitive species," including sea turtles, deep sea corals and sperm whales, according to a White House fact sheet.

The big picture: The announcement, which came on World Ocean Day, lines up with the Biden administration's "America the Beautiful" initiative, which seeks to conserve 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030, in part by expanding the National Marine Sanctuary System.

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a press release Wednesday that it will seek public comment on a range of issues pertaining to the designation, including the boundaries for the proposed sanctuary, its potential name, and information about the area's Indigenous and Tribal heritage.
  • Before the designation is finalized, NOAA will conduct an environmental impact analysis and write a management plan, a process that could take more than a year to finish, according to the Washington Post.

What they're saying: "A sanctuary near one of the most densely populated areas of the Northeast U.S. would connect diverse communities across the region to the ocean and the canyon in new and different ways," NOAA administrator Rick Spinrad said in the press release.

  • "The mid-Atlantic region is already seeing shifts in marine species distributions, including some that are important to humans for food," Nicole LeBoeuf, director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service, said in the press release.
  • "Hudson Canyon could serve as a sentinel site for NOAA to monitor the impacts of climate change on submarine canyons and other deep sea benthic habitats, which are vulnerable to the effects of ocean acidification and oxygen depletion."
  • "National marine sanctuaries protect our most iconic ocean and Great Lake waters. They protect unique ecosystems, extraordinary seascapes, and treasured places for people to enjoy," Kris Sarri, president and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, said in a press release Wednesday.
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