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    Wednesday, February 21, 2024

    Aquarium to host public input session on plan for national marine monument

    Mystic— Mystic Aquarium will host one of two live public sessions seeking input on a management plan for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument on Tuesday, Dec. 6 from 6 to 8 p.m.

    The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will hold the mandated public engagement session as the first of seven steps to develop the Monument Management Plan.

    The plan will oversee the long-term care and preservation of the monument, designated by President Barak Obama in 2016.

    Upon completion, the plan will include priorities and goals for management of the monument, as well as outline methods to manage and preserve the ecosystem, marine life and resources found there.

    The forums seek public input on conservation, exploration, education, public engagement and research.

    The final plan will not include commercial fishing, its use as an energy, oil, gas or mineral resource, introduction of new species or altering the topography of the monument beyond maintenance of undersea cables or anchoring research equipment.

    The first and only national marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean, the 3.1-million-acre swath of open ocean 130 miles southeast of Cape Cod hosts a diverse array of sea life due to the unique landscape, which includes the four underwater seamounts and three submarine canyons.

    According to NOAA, the largest of the underwater mountains, the 100-million-year-old Bear Seamount, stands about 2,500 meters tall, and the 941 square miles of canyons, which sit at the edge of the continental shelf, range from 200 meters to thousands of meters deep.

    The monument is home to a wide range of life including 54 species of deep-sea corals, as well as sponges and anemones which thrive along canyon walls and support the plankton which form the basis for a food chain that includes schools of fish, squid, crab, octopus and whales, among others.

    A second public engagement session is scheduled for Dec. 12 at Boston’s New England Aquarium, and two virtual forums will also be held on Dec. 9 and 19.

    The link to register for the forums as well as postal and email addresses for comment submission are available on the Monument Management Plan website at https://www.fws.gov/project/monument-management-plan.

    Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.