The New York State Department of State (NYS DOS) applauds the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s recent announcement to create a new National Marine Sanctuary (Sanctuary) by initiating a multi-year designation process to permanently protect the largest submarine canyon along the U.S. Atlantic coast, the Hudson Canyon.
Located approximately 100 miles offshore of New York City, the deep-sea Hudson Canyon provides important habitat for diverse marine species and supports a number of recreational activities and ocean-industries important to the State. The Hudson Canyon is the largest submerged canyon off the U.S. East Coast and is one of the largest underwater canyons in the world.
In 2016, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium submitted a nomination to prioritize an area of the Outer Continental Shelf (OSC) that included the Hudson Canyon for conservation and research. Often referred to as underwater parks, Sanctuary designation for the Hudson Canyon would enhance existing federal protections for areas demonstrated to possess nationally significant resources and would bring new opportunities for research, educational programming, and community engagement to the region.
The State looks forward to working with NOAA and our partners throughout the designation process to protect this critical area while continuing to provide opportunities for ongoing commercial fishing, marine transportation, and offshore wind development activities. In particular, New York’s nation-leading offshore wind goals are seen as compatible with the protection of the canyon’s unique features by combining a collaborative Sanctuary management plan with responsible offshore wind siting and development decisions.
New York’s Offshore Wind Master Plan recognized the most sensitive features of the canyon when identifying potential lease areas. Through the designation process, the State is committed to working with NOAA, offshore wind developers and other ocean stakeholders to ensure that the canyon becomes a prominent symbol of the State’s commitment to a cleaner and more sustainable future and a model for successful ecological stewardship.
The proposed designation would make the Hudson Canyon just the 16th National Marine Sanctuary, alongside world-renowned sites including the marine waters around the Florida Keys, Hawaiian Islands and the Olympic Coast. We celebrate this milestone for the Hudson Canyon which coincides with the 40th anniversary of the New York State Coastal Management Program, and at the same time as NOAA celebrates 50th anniversaries of both the National Marine Sanctuaries Act and the federal Coastal Zone Management Act.
New York State Secretary of State Robert Rodriguez said, “The New York State Department of State applauds NOAA in shining a national spotlight on the unique habitats of the Hudson Canyon. For over a decade, the Department of State has collaborated with NOAA, the Mid-Atlantic States, stakeholders and partners throughout the region to promote research and greater awareness of submarine canyons in the Mid-Atlantic. Our work highlights the critical roles submarine canyons play in sustaining healthy, diverse ocean and coastal habitats amid the systemic threats of climate change. We want to ensure a robust public process that considers the ecological value of this area, its importance to commercial fishing industries, and how best to harmonize New York State’s conservation and clean energy activities. The Hudson Canyon is a special place to share, explore, and treasure.”
If designated by NOAA, this could become the second national marine sanctuary off New York’s shorelines. NOAA currently has a draft proposal to designate an approximately 1,700 square mile area in the eastern waters of Lake Ontario adjacent to Oswego, Jefferson, Cayuga, and Wayne counties that would protect a trove of shipwrecks and sunken aircraft that span over 200 years of history.
Before any further action is taken on the Hudson Canyon proposal, NOAA is seeking public comment. NOAA is hosting two public meetings in July to provide more information. Written comments are also being accepted. For more information and to submit comments, see the Federal Register notice: NOAA-NOS-2022-12234