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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


What are the key steps for management plan review at MBNMS?

What is the timeline for the management plan review process at MBNMS?

How can I get involved?

Are regulatory changes being considered?

What are scoping meetings?

How do I comment?

What is the format of the scoping meetings?

Why has MBNMS provided a list of priority topics prior to the beginning of the scoping process?

What are the preliminary priority topics identified by MBNMS?

Will there be an Environmental Impact Statement? When will the draft be released for public review?

Where can I get more information?


What are the key steps for management plan review at MBNMS?

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This process begins with release of the summary findings for MBNMS’ Condition Report, which is a review of the condition of sanctuary resources and trends. These findings were distributed to the public in late August 2015, in advance of the public comment period. The Monterey Bay 2015 Condition Report Partial Update is available now.

On August 27, 2015, the sanctuary published in the Federal Register a (NOI) to initiate the management plan review process. The NOI contains information about public scoping meetings, and signaled the opening of a 60-day public comment period. In the months following this public comment period, the sanctuary will be working with partners to prioritize management issues, develop action plans, and prepare a draft management plan. Formal public hearings on the draft plan will help staff revise the document into a final management plan, which, once approved, will outline the sanctuary's priorities for the next 5-10 years.

Public Comment and Scoping Meetings: MBNMS staff will hold public scoping meetings in several communities around the Monterey Bay region in September and October 2015. These meetings will provide sanctuary users, members of the public and agencies opportunities to comment on the sanctuary management strategies and provide input on what issues and problems they see as management priorities for the next five to ten years. Comments will be accepted via mail, email, or telephone. The scoping period extends through October 30, 2015.

Action Plans: After the public scoping period, MBNMS will review all comments and working with the sanctuary's Advisory Council and subject matter experts will develop tailored action plans to address priority issues. These action plans will form the foundation of the draft management plan.

Draft & Final Management Plans: The draft management plan will contain a series of action plans addressing resource protection and general management of the sanctuary. Action plans may also propose regulatory changes. After publication of a draft management plan, MBNMS will host a series of public hearings and accept written comments, where the public will have another opportunity to influence the sanctuary's management plan. An Environmental Impact Statement will be prepared to support and explain any changes to the existing management plan. After the close of the public comment period, sanctuary staff will review comments and make any necessary changes before issuing the final management plan.

   

What is the timeline for the management plan review process at MBNMS?

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The entire process is estimated to take 3 years, starting with the initial scoping period in September-October 2015. Priority topics for the revised management plan will be selected in early 2016. Action plan development will occur through the spring of 2017. A draft management plan and a corresponding National Environmental Policy Act compliance document will be released in early summer 2017, and final documents can be expected by the beginning of the following year.

   

How can I get involved?

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You can become involved in the management plan review by helping us to identify important issues during the public scoping phase. MBNMS will accept comments in writing, by email, or in person at any of the scoping workshops (see management plan schedule for a meeting near you). After the issues have been reviewed and prioritized, the sanctuary will involve the public in developing action plans. These action plans will become the foundation for the draft management plan, which, once completed, will be available for public review and comment. Throughout the review process, you may also attend any of the Advisory Council meetings held at various locations near the sanctuary. Meeting agendas and meeting minutes are posted on the sanctuary website, and all meetings are open to the public.

   

Are regulatory changes being considered?

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Changes to the sanctuary's regulations may be recommended through the MPR process, some considerations are currently listed in the Notice of Intent. Regulatory changes will be made in accordance with the requirements of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, National Environmental Policy Act, the Administrative Procedures Act, and other requisite regulations and government policies.

   

What are scoping meetings?

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At the onset of a management plan review, the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) holds public meetings to "scope out" or receive input from resource users, interest groups, government agencies and other members of the public on resource management issues. MBNMS will hold four scoping meetings from September 10 to October 23, 2015 in communities throughout the central California coast. The dates, times and locations of scoping meetings are available on our web site. The input received at these meetings will help define the range of issues that the program addresses during Management Plan Review.

   

How do I comment?

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You may submit comments by any of the following methods:

  • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NOS-2015-0099, click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
  • Mail:
    99 Pacific Street, Bldg. 455A
    Monterey, California 93940
    Attn: Paul Michel, Superintendent.

Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NOAA. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NOAA will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

   

What is the format of the scoping meetings?

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The scoping meetings provide a forum for the public to meet sanctuary staff, discuss ongoing programs and provide comments to sanctuary staff. They are not decision-making meetings. At the beginning of each scoping meeting, sanctuary staff will provide all participants with a summary of MPR and the scoping meeting format, and clarify the process. Following the introduction, the group will break up into discussion groups consisting of about eight to ten people. A group leader will help facilitate the discussion and ensure everyone has the opportunity to talk and provide comments. Each group will have a recorder to write each of the comments on a presentation pad so the group can confirm the recorded comments.

   

Why has MBNMS provided a list of priority topics prior to the beginning of the scoping process?

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In the previous management plan review, the public scoping was intentionally “wide-open” to solicit all the ideas possible for consideration and inclusion. Many members of the public have expressed the desire for a more focused approach and guidance on topics to respond to. Sanctuary staff is offering up a preliminary list of priority topics, which could be discussed in management plan review, to facilitate a more meaningful dialogue with the public.

   

What are the preliminary priority topics identified by MBNMS?

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NOAA prepared a list of preliminary priority topics that represents a consensus of the most important issues NOAA should consider in preparation of a new MBNMS management plan. We are interested in the public's comments on these topics, as well as any other topics of interest to the public or other agencies. It is important to note this list does not preclude or in any way limit the consideration of additional topics raised through public comment and discussions with partner agencies.

Characterization and Monitoring - There is a continuing need to develop an understanding of baseline conditions of marine resources within the sanctuary, ecosystem functions and status and trends of biological and socioeconomic resources to effectively inform management. MBNMS in conjunction with numerous research agencies, universities and other entities will work to resolve these needs.

Climate Change - Climate change is widely acknowledged, yet there is considerable uncertainty about current and future consequences at local, ecosystem and oceanic scales. Increased coordination and cooperation among science and resource management agencies are required to improve planning, monitoring and adaptive management to address this phenomenon as it pertains to the protection of MBNMS resources.

Ocean Literacy - Education, Outreach and Citizen Science Enhancing the public’s awareness and appreciation of sanctuary resources is a cornerstone of MBNMS’s mission. Recent initiatives, such as visitor centers, video media production, and partnering with recreation and tourism industry offer opportunities for NOAA and other entities to expand educational and outreach contributions and reach larger audiences. NOAA is seeking the public’s view on developing and enhancing programs designed to enhance public awareness, including opportunities to participate in environmental research and monitoring.

Marine Debris - Coastal marine debris is a persistent and poorly diagnosed problem within the sanctuary that negatively impacts natural and socioeconomic resources and qualities, including marine mammals, turtles and seabirds. NOAA is seeking input on innovative source controls and cleanups could help minimize impacts to sanctuary waters and habitats.

Wildlife Disturbance - MBNMS is an active area with abundant human use, offering some of the most significant marine wildlife viewing in the world. NOAA is concerned about a variety of human activities that have the ability to disturb marine wildlife. The harassment of wildlife, in particular marine mammals, has increased in recent years due to increased numbers (and proximity) of certain whale species and humans involved in on-the-water activities. Impacts to the MBNMS soundscape are also a concern, as the cumulative effects of underwater noise generated by a variety of human activities have grown over the past half-century. Expanded use of unmanned aircraft systems over the sanctuary may also require additional analysis to determine the degree to which these aircraft may, or may not, be causing harm to wildlife.

Water Quality Protection - Water quality is key to ensuring protection for all sanctuary resources. Given the level of coastal development along MBNMS’s extensive coastline, runoff of contaminants such as sediments, nutrients, fecal bacteria, pesticides, oil, grease, metals, and detergents from the approximately 7,000 square miles of coastal watershed areas makes the sanctuary vulnerable to coastal water pollution problems. Although MBNMS has an award-winning water quality protection program, NOAA believes more focused attention on specific water quality issues is needed, as well as a coordinated regional monitoring program to provide meaningful information on conditions, trends, and contaminant loads.

Regulatory Changes and Clarifications - NOAA is considering several modifications to MBNMS regulations and definitions to facilitate resource protection, clarify legal intent, and enhance public understanding. These include: Clarifying the extent of the shoreward sanctuary boundary line and the means by which some of the zones within MBNMS are delineated; clarifying the intent of the prohibition on the take of historical resources; and prohibiting tampering with MBNMS signage and buoys. Other regulatory changes may be considered based on public scoping comments and staff work to adjust various action plans within the management plan.

   

Will there be an Environmental Impact Statement? When will the draft be released for public review?

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The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) will follow provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) during management plan review. The draft and final management plans will be accompanied by an appropriate environmental document. The type and degree of environmental documentation depends on the specific issues addressed during the review and the type and degree of changes made. ONMS will determine which an environmental assessment is the most appropriate NEPA documentation for this process.

   

Where can I get more information?

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For more information, print copies of specific documents or to be added to the distribution list for management plan review updates and announcements, please contact the sanctuary office:

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Management Plan Review
99 Pacific Street, Building 455A
Monterey, CA 93940

mbnmsmanagementplan@noaa.gov
   

URL: http://montereybay.noaa.gov/includes-interface/footertop.html    Reviewed: July 26, 2017
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