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A New Marine Sanctuary? Your Voice Counts

An underwater canyon approximately 100 miles southeast of New York City has been proposed as a new national marine sanctuary. NOAA wants your input.

Canyon molamola off of Hudson Canyon

Photo: NOAA

To offshore anglers in the Northeast, the most hallowed fishing grounds are known as "The Canyons," about 100 miles off the coast, where the continental shelf drops off more than 2 miles into the pitch-black abyss of the deep Atlantic Ocean. There, you'll find five massive canyons, some plunging deeper than the Grand Canyon.

What even nonanglers can appreciate is the amazing mix of marine life that inhabit those deep, dark waters. More than 320 marine species have been identified in the region's canyons and another 630 on the seamounts, and oceanographers say there are more undiscovered species down there.

2022 proposed Hudson Canyon

2022 proposed Hudson Canyon.

NOAA, the government agency responsible for managing U.S. coastal waters, is seeking public comment on potentially designating a new national marine sanctuary in Hudson Canyon off the coast of New York and New Jersey. A sanctuary designation would help conserve the area's rich marine wildlife and habitats, promote sustainable economic activities and create new opportunities for scientific research, ocean education and recreation.

Before you read any more, you've got to check out this NOAA video of the lush bottom beneath the surface. There's no sound, but the images speak for themselves.

Hudson Canyon is the largest underwater canyon along the U.S. Atlantic Coast, and is about 100 miles off the coast of New York and New Jersey. The canyon ⁠— about 2 to 2.5 miles deep and up to 7.5 miles wide ⁠— provides habitat for a range of protected and sensitive species, including sperm whales, sea turtles, and deep-sea corals. The canyon's rich biodiversity is integral to the region's economy, underpinning commercial and recreational fisheries, recreational diving, whale-watching, and birding.

2018 overhead view of Hudson Canyon

2018 overhead view of Hudson Canyon.

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 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.

Visit the NOAA Marine Sanctuaries page for a detailed description of the proposed sanctuary, additional information about opportunities to provide comment, and information about the public meetings.

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Rich Armstrong

Senior Editor, BoatUS Magazine

A journalist by training, BoatUS Magazine Senior Editor Rich Armstrong has worked in TV news, and at several newspapers, then spent 18 years as a top editor at other boating publications. He’s built a stellar reputation in the marine industry as one of the most thorough reporters in our business. At BoatUS Magazine, Rich handles everything from boat and product innovation and late-breaking news, to compelling feature stories, boat reviews, and features on people and places. The New Jersey shore and lakes of lower New York defined Rich's childhood. But when he bought a 21-foot Four Winns deck boat and introduced his young family to the Connecticut River, his love for the world of boats flourished from there.