Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument Frequently Asked Questions
The latest information on the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument
Where is the Monument?
Get more information about the Monument's location and resources, as well as coordinates.
What Monument resources are protected under the proclamation?
The entire ecosystem is a monument resource. The proclamation states: “The canyon and seamount area includes the waters and submerged lands within the coordinates included in the accompanying map. The canyon and seamount area contains objects of historic and scientific interest that are situated upon lands owned or controlled by the Federal government. These objects are the canyons and seamounts themselves, and the natural resources and ecosystems in and around them.”
What are the rules, regulations, and permit requirements for activities in the Monument?
The following activities are prohibited in the monument:
- Exploring for, developing, or producing oil and gas or minerals, or undertaking any other energy exploration or development activities within the monument.
- Using or attempting to use poisons, electrical charges, or explosives in the collection or harvest of a monument resource.
- Introducing or otherwise releasing an introduced species from within or into the monument.
- Removing, moving, taking, harvesting, possessing, injuring, disturbing, or damaging, or attempting to remove, move, take, harvest, possess, injure, disturb, or damage, any living or nonliving monument resource, except as provided under regulated activities below.
- Drilling into, anchoring, dredging, or otherwise altering the submerged lands; or constructing, placing, or abandoning any structure, material, or other matter on the submerged lands, except for scientific instruments and constructing or maintaining submarine cables.
- Fishing commercially or possessing commercial fishing gear except when stowed and not available for immediate use during passage without interruption through the monument, except for the red crab fishery and the American lobster fishery as regulated below.
The following activities are exempted from the monument's permitting program:
- Response to emergencies threatening life, property, or the environment
- Law Enforcement activities
- Activities and exercises of the Armed Forces (including the United States Coast Guard)
- Scientific exploration or research activities by or for the Secretaries
The following activities are regulated through the monument's permitting process:
- Research and scientific exploration designed to further understanding of monument resources and qualities or knowledge of the North Atlantic Ocean ecosystem and resources.
- Activities that will further the educational value of the monument or will assist in the conservation and management of the monument.
- Anchoring scientific instruments.
- Recreational fishing in accordance with applicable fishery management plans and other applicable laws and other requirements.
- Commercial fishing for red crab and American lobster for a period of not more than 7 years from the date of Presidential Proclamation 9496, in accordance with applicable fishery management plans and other regulations, and under permits in effect on the date of Presidential Proclamation 9496. After 7 years, red crab and American lobster commercial fishing is prohibited in the monument.
- Other activities that do not impact monument resources, such as sailing or bird and marine mammal watching so long as those activities are conducted in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, including the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Nothing in the proclamation is intended to require that the Secretaries issue individual permits in order to allow such activities.
- Construction and maintenance of submarine cables.
Find out more about permits in the Monument.
What does the Monument mean for fishermen?
Commercial fishing and other resource extraction activities are prohibited within the monument boundaries. The red crab and the American lobster pot and trap fisheries will continue under existing permits for up to seven years after the proclamation in 2016.
Do red crab and lobster fishermen need any special permits to fish in the Monument until 2023?
No. The proclamation does not change existing commercial red crab and lobster permits. The proclamation states that “Commercial fishing for red crab and American lobster for a period of not more than 7 years from the date of this proclamation, in accordance with applicable fishery management plans and other regulations, and under permits in effect on the date of this proclamation. After 7 years, red crab and American lobster commercial fishing is prohibited in the monument.”
If I am fishing for lobster in the Monument, may I keep my Jonah crab bycatch?
Yes. Under current practice in the region, lobster fishermen in this fishery may retain Jonah crab as bycatch. In the future, we will be implementing fishery regulations for the Monument once this issue is more fully evaluated and addressed. In the interim, NOAA and FWS, as co-managers of the Monument, will permit the lobster fishermen’s current practice of retaining Jonah crab bycatch to continue in order to avoid unnecessary disruption.
What happens if a lobster or red crab permit holder sells a vessel or transfers his or her permit through the vessel replacement process?
The proclamation allows lobster and red crab fishing for up to 7 years “in accordance with applicable fishery management plans and other regulations, and under permits in effect on the date of this proclamation.” The current management measures allow permits to be conveyed when a vessel is sold or replaced. Therefore, fishing under a transferred permit would be allowed until the 7 years is over, then all commercial fishing must stop.
Are there transit provisions for commercial fishing vessels to transit through the area?
Yes. Commercial fishermen may transit through the area if fishing gear is stowed and not available for immediate use during passage without interruption through the Monument.
Is recreational fishing still allowed in the Monument?
Yes. The proclamation provides that recreational fishing may be permitted in the Monument if the Secretary concludes that such activity is consistent with the care and management of the objects within the monument. Currently, the NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic and Southeast Regions include for-hire and charter vessels within the definition of recreational fishermen for management purposes. The Atlantic HMS Management Division includes private vessels, charter vessels, and headboat vessels within the definition of recreational fishermen for management purposes. Any change to the scope and extent of permitted recreational fishing activities will be determined in implementing regulations with plenty of notice to fishermen about any changes.
Will recreational fishermen be allowed to anchor while in this area?
No, regular anchors are prohibited. The Proclamation states that “drilling into, anchoring, dredging, or otherwise altering the submerged lands” is a prohibited activity. However, at this time, the use of sea anchors (typically an object dragged behind the vessel in the water column to stabilize a vessel’s drift) are allowed as they do not anchor the vessel nor do they alter submerged lands. Any change to the scope and extent of permitted recreational fishing activities will be determined in implementing regulations.
Will recreational fishermen still be allowed to drag anchors through this area?
No. Dragging of anchors is prohibited.
Can research occur in the monument?
Yes. The proclamation states that the Secretaries may permit “Research and scientific exploration designed to further understanding of monument resources and qualities or knowledge of the North Atlantic Ocean ecosystem and resources.” The National Wildlife Refuge System has three types of special use permits to regulate research and other activities in the Monument.
Does the NOAA Fisheries bottom trawl survey operate in the Monument area? And will it continue?
Survey stations are randomly generated within standardized areas defined by depth and latitude throughout U.S. waters off the Northeast. The surveys do not take place on the Seamounts. In the Canyons, we have averaged about three stations per survey in the area over the last 10 years. Since 2005, we have excluded portions of Lydonia and Oceanographer Canyons when survey stations are generated. Those excluded areas were designated as habitat closed areas by the regional fishery management councils to protect essential fish habitat and structured sea life such as corals. Going forward, NOAA will need to make a finding as to whether the survey is consistent with the care and management of the monument resources.
How does the survey affect Monument resources?
The survey captures marine species defined as Monument resources. The volume of catches in this region is generally fairly low. In the last 10 surveys the species most frequently caught in the Monument were longfin squid, red hake, fourspot flounder, and gulf stream flounder. The survey gear operates on and near the ocean floor and during a tow it can disturb the bottom or sea life that lives there.
What is the difference between a National Marine Sanctuary and a Marine National Monument?
Both Marine National Monuments and National Marine Sanctuaries are marine protected areas--areas of seas, oceans, estuaries or large lakes set aside with limits on certain human activity for a conservation purpose, typically to protect natural or cultural resources. Monuments and Sanctuaries are established under different legal authorities, with different requirements for designation and possibly different conditions for protecting the resources and permitted human uses. NOAA manages 13 Marine Sanctuaries established under the Marine Sanctuaries Act, and has a role in management of five marine national monuments established under the Antiquities Act (Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, Rose Atoll Marine National Monument, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument). In some instances, a marine national monument may be given an additional layer of protection by designation as a marine sanctuary.
What is the difference between a Marine Protected Area and a Monument?
A Marine National Monument is a type of Marine Protected Area designated by Presidential Proclamation. Marine protected areas (MPAs) in the U.S. come in a variety of forms and are established and managed by all levels of government.
Where can I find out more about the Monument?
Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, Interim Superintendent
Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Refuge Manager
Assistant USFWS Refuge Planner for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument