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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.

Cover image from the State of the Sanctuary Report, which includes a photo of a manta ray.

Download a Management Plan Review Fact Sheet (84kb pdf).

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What are the Steps for the Review?

blue check markI. 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).

People standing by a table and talking.
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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blue check markII. Characterizing Priority Issues

Looking down on a meeting from an overhead balcony.  Meeting participants are seated around tables placed in a large U shape.
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
  • Enforcement
  • Education/Outreach
  • Impacts of Pollutant Discharge

Additional issues were addressed primarily by sanctuary staff:

  • Research
  • Administration
  • 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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blue check markIII. Draft Management Plan and Environmental Analysis

Cover image from Draft Management Plan

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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blue check markIV. 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.

blue check markV. Final Management Plan and Environmental Analysis

Front cover of final management plan.

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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ArrowWhat Next?

NOAA considers the sanctuary expansion recommendation in this plan to be a high priority and intends to immediately investigate this option.

First, a 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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Sanctuary Updates

FGBNMSupdates sends weekly email messages to announce the latest sanctuary news, events, and web updates.

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.

Management Documents

Please visit our online Document Library for downloadable versions of many sanctuary management documents.

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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