school of fish in background
Skip to page Header home about your sanctuary visiting your sanctuary education science management news and events protecting resources image library document library Get Involved advisory council NOAA logo - a circle with a stylized seabird in flight; background is dark blue above the bird and light blue below the bird.

blank spaceFind us on Facebook

     Follow @fgbnms on Twitter


Skip to Main Content
Management Overview    Sanctuary Expansion
2012 Management Plan     Regulations    

Two-toned blue subheading underline

The sanctuary's 2012 Management Plan serves as a framework for addressing issues facing the sanctuary over the next five to ten years. It lays the foundation for protecting, conserving, and enhancing Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS) and its regional environment in the Gulf of Mexico for this and future generations.

Cover image from the Draft Management Plan

Management Plan Highlights

The 2012 Management Plan includes two proposals that are particularly likely to interest the public:

  • a recommendation to expand sanctuary boundaries to include additional reefs and banks in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, and
  • further study to determine the need for a scientific research area within the sanctuary to better understand the impacts of hook and line fishing and SCUBA diving.

These will be considered for action prior to the next management plan review and will necessitate further analysis through an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Along with the 2012 Management Plan, NOAA is enacting some changes to FGBNMS regulations. As required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), NOAA prepared a programmatic Environmental Assessment (EA) to analyze potential impacts to the natural and human environments that may result from revising the 1991 FGBNMS management plan and FGBNMS regulations.  The 2012 Environmental Assessment is available as a separate document.

top of page

Organization of this Document

The 2012 Management Plan is organized into seven sections.

Introduction provides background information on national marine sanctuaries, FGBNMS, and the purpose and need for updating the management plan. 

Sanctuary Setting is an overview of the institutional setting in which the sanctuary operates and of the regional ecosystem of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico.  It also describes the local environment of East and West Flower Garden Banks, and Stetson Bank. 

Action Plans details the management strategies and activities developed to address the priority issues of FGBNMS and meet the purposes and policies of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act. 

Public Comments on Draft Management Plan provides responses to public questions and comments received during review of the Draft Management Plan, which was released in October 2010.

Summary of the Programmatic Environmental Assessment provides a summary of the environmental analysis of the two alternatives considered: 1) no action, and 2) the proposed action of revising the management plan and making modifications to FGBNMS regulations. 

References lists the sources cited in this document.

Appendices provide full text of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act and FGBNMS Regulations.

top of page

Download the 2012 Management Plan

Low Resolution (2.8MB pdf)
Highest-Resolution for Media and Print (5.2MB pdf)

Download by Chapter

About This Document (71kb pdf)
Table of Contents (106kb pdf)
Executive Summary (114kb pdf)
Introduction (191kb pdf)
Sanctuary Setting (1.6MB pdf)
Action Plans Introduction (120kb pdf)
Sanctuary Expansion Action Plan (307kb pdf)
Education and Outreach Action Plan (203kb pdf)
Research and Monitoring Action Plan (437kb pdf)
Resource Protection Action Plan (230kb pdf)
Visitor Use Action Plan (278kb pdf)
Operations and Administration Action Plan (301kb pdf)
Public Comments on Draft Management Plan (228kb pdf)
Summary of the Programmatic Environmental Assessment (98kb pdf)
References (71kb pdf)
Appendix I - National Marine Sanctuary Act (420kb pdf)
Appendix II - FGBNMS Regulations (152kb pdf)

Download the 2012 Programmatic Environmental Assessment

Low Resolution (1.3MB pdf)
Highest-Resolution for Media and Print (3.4MB pdf)

Download The Final Rule Notification

Federal Register Notice (244kb pdf) - Official notice of Final rule; Public Availability of Final Management Plan and Environmental Assessment

top of page

Additional Information

A supplemental document on spearfishing (207kb pdf) provides a summary of research on spearfishing impacts as referenced in Comment 6 in the Public Comments chapter.

Specifics about the revised regulations are listed in the Federal Register Notice dated April 2012.

top of page

Sanctuary Updates

If you would like to be added to an email list for regular announcements about the sanctuary, please complete the form below.

To sign up for the Sanctuary Updates list or to access your subscriber preferences, please enter your contact information below.

Subscription to this list is voluntary. Submitting your email address through this form constitutes your consent to the use of the information for the stated purpose.

If you need more information regarding this email update list, please contact the list administrator at

top of page

Two-toned blue line

weather report observations cool stuff get wet

Gray-green tube sponge cluster in foreground.  Algae covered rocks in background.  Tubes range from 5-20 inches tall and about 1 to 3 inches across.
National Marine Sanctuary logo - a stylized whale tail above waves