MANAGEMENT PLAN REVIEW
The Management Plan Review (MPR) process is used to update action plans and strategies for sanctuary management over a 5-10 year period. This process depends on the active involvement of our constituents and the Sanctuary Advisory Council.
The most recent MPR began in 2006. This was the first management plan review since the sanctuary's designation in 1992.
As part of the preparation for this process, sanctuary staff worked with council members to update the sanctuary's goals and objectives (44kb pdf), then released a State of the Sanctuary Report (1.4MB pdf). This provided information about the sanctuary, its accomplishments, and its resource management issues as of October 2006.
Download a Management Plan Review Fact Sheet (84kb pdf).
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What are the Steps for the Review?
I. Public Scoping
Management plan review officially begins with an opportunity for the public to learn about and comment on the current state of sanctuary management and emerging issues. Public meetings are held to "scope out" or get input on resource management issues from sanctuary users, interest groups, government agencies, and other members of the public. This input helps define the range of issues that the program needs to address during the Management Plan Review.
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary staff held three public scoping meetings in October 2006 (Houston/Galveston, Corpus Christi, and New Orleans).
Public scoping meeting in Webster, TX
Photo: Joyce & Frank Burek
More than 50 people attended the public scoping meetings and over 80 written comments were collected. Comment topics included artificial reefs, endangered species, enforcement, harvesting, oil and gas infrastructure, pollutant discharge, regional water quality, shipping and transport, visitor use, wildlife interactions, boundary expansion, habitat connectivity, invasive species, education, global warming, hurricanes and administrative issues. Fishing, boundary expansion, and public outreach and education received more comments than other topics.
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II. Characterizing Priority Issues
Sanctuary Advisory Council meeting
During the February 2007 Sanctuary Advisory Council meeting, the Council established six (6) committees to address specific priority issues identified through the public scoping process. Each committee consisted of one or more council members and a supporting sanctuary staff member.
- Fishing Impacts
- Impacts from Visitor Use
- Sanctuary Expansion
- Impacts of Pollutant Discharge
Additional issues were addressed primarily by sanctuary staff:
- Performance Evaluation
This step in the Management Plan Review was complete when the committees made formal recommendations on management strategies and activities to the Sanctuary Advisory Council. Once adopted, the Council officially proposed those management actions to the sanctuary superintendent for inclusion in the management plan.
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III. Draft Management Plan and Environmental Analysis
Sanctuary staff used recommendations from the Sanctuary Advisory Council to help develop Action Plans to address each issue and prepare a draft management plan. The draft plan proposed strategies and activities to protect the resources of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and improve human uses compatible with resource protection.
Specifically, the draft plan addressed sanctuary expansion, education and outreach, research and monitoring, resource protection, visitor use, and operations and administration. The draft plan also proposed minor changes to sanctuary regulations.
The Draft Management Plan, Draft Environmental Assessment, and Proposed Rule were released on October 22, 2010. This was followed by a 90-day public comment period.
The Draft Environmental Assessment analyzes any potential impacts to the environment that may result from revising the 1991 FGBNMS management plan and the FGBNMS regulations.
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IV. Public Comment Period
Interested members of the public were encouraged to comment on the Draft Management Plan.
A Public Meeting about the draft plan was held in Galveston on December 9, 2010. This was an opportunity for interested people to learn more about the plan and speak directly to sanctuary staff. Comments about the plan were also received at the Advisory Council meeting on November 17, 2011.
The public comment period for the draft plan and proposed regulations closed January 20, 2011.
V. Final Management Plan and Environmental Analysis
Sanctuary staff further revised the management plan, environmental assessment and proposed rule based on input gathered during the public comment period. They also added summary responses to public comments received during review of the Draft Management Plan.
The Final Management Plan, also referred to as the 2012 Management Plan, was officially released on April 12, 2012. This document outlines the sanctuary's priorities for the next 5-10 years.
More information and downloadable documents are available from the 2012 Management Plan and Management Plan FAQ pages of this website.
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NOAA considers the sanctuary expansion recommendation in this plan to be a high priority and intends to immediately investigate this option.
First, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be prepared concerning the areas of the Gulf of Mexico we are considering for sanctuary expansion. This must address not only the impacts on wildlife, but also on the people who use the areas in question, including socioeconomic impacts.
During the development of the EIS, there will be several opportunities for the public to learn about and comment on the proposal and the content of the EIS.
Next, the actual boundaries for these areas will be determined. Some of the information influencing boundary placement will be the location of critical habitat and existing oil and gas infrastructure. The goal is to maximize habitat protection while minimizing impacts to existing activities in the area.
Finally, regulations for the expanded areas will need to be determined. These may or may not remain the same as existing sanctuary regulations.
So, stay tuned. Your chance for further comment is just around the corner...
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Please visit our online Document Library for downloadable versions of many sanctuary management documents.
For more information, please email the management plan coordinator at email@example.com.
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