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Nomination of Existing Marine Protected Areas to the National System of Marine Protected Areas and Updates to the List of National System Marine Protected Areas

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NOAA, Department of Commerce (DOC).


Public notice and opportunity for comment on the list of nominations received from State and territorial marine protected area programs to join the National System of Marine Protected Areas and notice of updates to the List of National System Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).


This notice: (1) Announces the addition of four MPAs managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service in consultation with the Mid Atlantic Fishery Management Council to the National System of MPAs (national system), thereby updating the List of National System MPAs; and (2) corrects a Federal Register notice published on December 27, 2010 announcing the nomination of 38 existing marine protected areas to the national system.

In August 2010, NOAA and the Department of the Interior (DOI) invited Federal, State, commonwealth, and territorial marine protected area (MPA) programs with potentially eligible existing MPAs to nominate their sites to the national system. The national system and the nomination process are described in the Framework for the National System of Marine Protected Areas of the United States (Framework), developed in response to Executive Order 13158 on Marine Protected Areas. The final Framework was published on November 19, 2008, (73 FR 69608) and provides guidance for collaborative efforts among Federal, State, commonwealth, territorial, Tribal and local governments and stakeholders to develop an effective and well coordinated national system of MPAs that includes existing MPAs meeting national system criteria as well as new sites that may be established by managing agencies to fill key conservation gaps in important ocean areas.


Comments on the new nominations to the national system of MPAs are due March 7, 2011.


Comments should be sent to Lauren Wenzel, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Protected Areas Center, 1305 East West Highway, N/ORM, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Fax: (301) 713-3110. E-mail: Comments will be accepted in written form by mail, e-mail, or fax.

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Lauren Wenzel, NOAA, at 301-713-3100, ext. 136 or via e-mail at An electronic copy of the list of nominated MPAs is available for download at

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Background on National System

The National System of MPAs includes member MPA sites, networks and systems established and managed by Federal, State, Tribal and/or local governments that collectively enhance conservation of the nation's natural and cultural marine heritage and represent its diverse ecosystems and resources. Although participating sites continue to be managed independently, national system MPAs also work together at the regional and national levels to achieve common objectives for conserving the nation's important natural and cultural resources, with emphasis on achieving the priority conservation objectives of the Framework. Executive Order 13158 defines an MPA as: “any area of the marine environment that has been reserved by Federal, State, territorial, Tribal, or local laws or regulations to provide lasting protection for part or all of the natural and cultural resources therein.” As such, MPAs in the national system include sites with a wide range of protections, including multiple use areas that manage a broad spectrum of activities and no-take reserves where all extractive uses are prohibited. Although sites in the national system may include both terrestrial and marine components, the term MPA as defined in the Framework refers only to the marine portion of a site (below the mean high tide mark).

Benefits of joining the national system of MPAs, which are expected to increase over time as the system matures, include a facilitated means to work with other MPAs in the region, and nationally on issues of common conservation concern; fostering greater public and international recognition of MPAs, MPA programs, and the resources they protect; priority in the receipt of available training and technical support, MPA partnership grants with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, cooperative project participation, and other support for cross-cutting needs; and the opportunity to influence Federal and regional ocean conservation and management initiatives (such as integrated ocean observing systems, systematic monitoring and evaluation, targeted outreach to key user groups, and helping to identify and address MPA research needs). In addition, the national system provides a forum for coordinated regional planning about place-based conservation priorities that does not otherwise exist.

Joining the national system does not restrict or require changes affecting the designation process for new MPAs or management and modification of Start Printed Page 6120existing MPAs. It does not bring State, territorial or local sites under Federal authority. It does not establish new regulatory authority or interfere with the exercise of existing agency authorities. The national system is a mechanism to foster greater collaboration among participating MPA sites and programs to enhance stewardship in the marine waters of the United States.

Nomination Process

The Framework describes a nomination process to allow existing MPAs that meet the entry criteria to become part of the system.

There are four entry criteria for existing MPAs to join the national system, including one that applies only to cultural heritage. Sites that meet all pertinent criteria are eligible for the national system.

1. Meets the definition of an MPA as defined in the Framework.

2. Has a management plan (can be site-specific or part of a broader programmatic management plan; must have goals and objectives and call for monitoring or evaluation of those goals and objectives).

3. Contributes to at least one priority conservation objective as listed in the Framework.

4. Cultural heritage MPAs must also conform to criteria for the National Register for Historic Places.

The MPA Center used existing information contained in the MPA Inventory to determine which MPAs meet the first and second criteria. The inventory is online at​helpful_​resources/​inventory.html, and potentially eligible sites are posted online at​pdf/​national-system/​nominationsummary810.pdf.

As part of the nomination process, the managing entity for each potentially eligible site is asked to provide information on the third and fourth criteria.

Updates to List of National System MPAs

On July 6, 2010, the following MPAs were nominated by the National Marine Fisheries Service, in consultation with the Mid Atlantic Fishery Management Council, to join the national system.

Federal Marine Protected Areas

Fishery Management Gear Restricted Areas (Under Tilefish Fishery Management Plan)

Oceanographer Canyon,

Lydonia Canyon,

Veatch Canyon,

Norfolk Canyon.

The nominations were open for a 30-day public comment period from July 6-August 5, 2010. No public comments were received. These nominations have now been accepted and added to the List of National System MPAs, which now includes 258 Federal, State and territorial MPAs. The List is available at

List of MPAs Nominated to the National System—Available for Public Comment

On December 27, 2010, NOAA published a Federal Register notice announcing the nomination of 38 MPAs by State and territorial resource agencies to join the national system of MPAs. However, the published list was incomplete, listing only 24 MPAs nominated by California, rather than 31. The corrected list is provided here. A list providing more detail for each site is available at

American Samoa

Alofau Village Marine Protected Area,

Amaua and Auto Village Marine Protected Area,

Fagamalo Village Marine Protected Area,

Masausi Village Marine Protected Area,

Matuu and Faganeanea Village Marine Protected Area,

Poloa Village Marine Protected Area,

Vatia Village Marine Protected Area.


Point Arena State Marine Reserve,

Point Arena State Marine Conservation Area,

Sea Lion Cove State Marine Conservation Area,

Saunders Reef State Marine Conservation Area,

Del Mar Landing State Marine Reserve,

Stewarts Point State Marine Reserve,

Salt Point State Marine Conservation Area,

Gerstle Cove State Marine Reserve,

Russian River State Marine Recreational Management Area,

Russian River State Marine Conservation Area,

Bodega Head State Marine Reserve,

Bodega Head State Marine Conservation Area,

Estero Americano State Marine Recreational Management Area,

Estero de San Antonio State Marine Recreational Management Area,

Drakes Estero State Marine Conservation Area,

Estero de Limantour State Marine Reserve,

Point Reyes State Marine Reserve,

Point Reyes State Marine Conservation Area,

Duxbury State Marine Conservation Area,

Southeast Farallon Island State Marine Reserve,

Southeast Farallon Island State Marine Conservation Area,

Montara State Marine Reserve,

Pillar Point State Marine Conservation Area,

Point Reyes Special Closure,

Point Resistance Special Closure,

Double Point/Stormy Stack Special Closure,

Egg (Devil's Slide) Rock to Devil's Slide Special Closure,

North Farallon Islands & Isle of St. James Special Closure,

Southeast Farallon Special Closure A,

North Farallon Islands State Marine Reserve,

Southeast Farallon Special Closure B,

Stewarts Point State Marine Conservation Area.

Review and Approval

Following this public comment period, the MPA Center will forward public comments to the relevant managing entity or entities, which will reaffirm or withdraw (in writing to the MPA Center) the nomination. After final MPA Center review, mutually agreed upon MPAs will be accepted into the national system and the List of National System MPAs will be posted at

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Dated: January 26, 2011.

Juliana P. Blackwell,

Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator.

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[FR Doc. 2011-2327 Filed 2-2-11; 8:45 am]