Biden-Harris administration publishes final management plan for Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument

A chimera seen swimming near the seafloor during the first midwater transect of Dive 10 of the Deep Connections 2019 expedition.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and NOAA Fisheries today released the final management plan and environmental assessment for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, the first and only marine national monument located in the Atlantic Ocean. The monument was established to protect and conserve unique and pristine habitats, historic objects and features of high scientific interest.


The plan provides the foundation for long-term collaborative management and community stewardship of the monument, where public and community involvement will be key to achieving the plan’s vision and goals over the next 15 years. Adoption of the plan advances the Biden-Harris administration’s America the Beautiful initiative to restore, connect and conserve 30 percent of lands and waters by 2030.


“With canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon, seamounts taller than any mountain east of the Rocky Mountains, and Gulf currents that well up to the surface, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is the ‘Serengeti of the Sea,’” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams. “There are so many discoveries still awaiting us in this incredible place, and we are excited to work with our partners at NOAA Fisheries to engage communities in its stewardship and study.”


The nutrient-rich monument, located 130 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, encompassing an area larger than Yellowstone National Park. Its rich landscape of ancient volcanoes and deep canyons supports deep-sea corals that can be thousands of years old, an abundance of phytoplankton, and an incredible array of seabirds, fish, squid and shrimp that provide a vital food source for whales, giant manta rays, leatherback sea turtles and other marine creatures. Scientists have researched and explored the monument for decades and yet are just beginning to understand this diverse and unique place.


Under the management plan, the Service and NOAA Fisheries will work as a monument management team to engage partners, conserve and protect the marine ecosystem, and establish stewardship, research, exploration, engagement and education programs that further understanding and connect people to the unique ecosystem and its inhabitants.


“NOAA Fisheries is proud to partner with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on this final management plan that will guide our collective efforts to protect, conserve and better understand the monument’s vital waters and the marine life that thrives in it,” said Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries Janet Coit. “This plan provides transparency in our management activities while ensuring the diverse and fascinating ecosystems of the first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean will be safeguarded for years to come.”


The final plan establishes long-term guidance to achieve monument goals and objectives, which are derived from the Presidential Proclamations, federal mandates and public input. The Service and NOAA Fisheries selected the preferred alternative (Alternative 2), which adopts the management plan and a permitting system that leverages the existing permitting programs of the joint management agencies. The final management plan was prepared with input from public comments received during the 45-day public comment period from September 12 to October 26, 2023, including six public meetings held in-person and virtually.


The final management plan and environmental assessment can be found on the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument website.

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