NJOA Does Not Support the Hudson Canyon Sanctuary Designation

NOAA Dockett number: NAA-NOS-222-0053

 August 5, 2022

New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA) represents 1.2 million outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen. Our mission as a grassroots coalition is to champion the intrinsic value of natural resource conservation – including fishing, hunting and trapping, among opinion leaders and policy makers. We support legislation, and those sponsoring legislation, that provide lasting ecological and social enrichment through sustainable use of the earth’s resources.

NJOA members John Toth and Arnold Ulrich both attended NOAA’s public meeting at Monmouth University on July 21st to hear the presentation on making the Hudson Canyon a Marine Sanctuary.

As stated, the goals of NOAA to designate the Canyon as a sanctuary include: supporting conservation of the area’s marine wildlife, habitats, and maritime cultural resources; working closely with tribal partners to identify and raise awareness of indigenous connections to the area and providing a platform of collaborative and diverse partnerships that support effective and inclusive long-term management of the area. Other goals include identifying information on the indigenous and tribal heritage of the area and developing a regulatory framework most appropriate for the proposed sanctuary.

Throughout the presentation, no specific reasons were presented as to how designating the Hudson Canyon as a marine sanctuary would further the stated goals. And there were no stated specific problems with any marine species that creating a sanctuary would address.   A sanctuary implies that there is something to protect yet there was no compelling reason stated as to why the Hudson Canyon should have this sanctuary designation. NOAA is simply acting on a 2016 nomination to make the Hudson Canyon a marine sanctuary lacking substantial reasons for doing it. 

The real concern for fishermen that we represent is that the Hudson Canyon will be closed for the recreational and commercial fishing. NOAA indicated at this meeting that recreational and commercial fishing will be allowed in the Canyon but at best this is an assurance and not a guarantee.  NJOA board member John Toth testified to NOAA that the recreational fishing industry has taken a lot of hits with so many party and charter boats going out of business, including tackle shops, because of so many regulations. The recreational industry relies on fishing in the Canyon for its survival.  He also commented that the commercial fishing industry also needs to have access to the Canyon so that we can have local fish to eat and not fish coming from China that has a poor record regarding the health quality of its fish.

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone was at this meeting and he indicated his support to have the Canyon as a sanctuary on the contingency that recreational and commercial fishing industries would be allowed to fish in it. He also indicated that NOAA should include representatives from both of these fishing industries in any framework that is formed to develop the Canyon as a sanctuary. While we do not support Representative Frank Pallone’s position on the Canyon because of our concerns expressed above, we do want to have a seat on any framework that is established to consider designating the Canyon as a sanctuary.

The NJOA does not support NOAA designating the Hudson Canyon a Marine Sanctuary since NOAA has not made a clear case that it is really needed. In addition, NOAA has provided assurance that recreational and commercial fishing would be allowed to continue in the Canyon, but a guarantee is needed before any consideration can be given for our changing our position on making the Hudson Canyon a sanctuary.

Respectfully Submitted

Edward Markowski, President

New Jersey Outdoor Alliance

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