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Management Plan Review
Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Management Plan?
What is a Management Plan Review?
What are the steps for the review?
What kind of changes can I expect?
Will new resources be added for protection?
How has the public been involved?
Where can I get more information?



What is a Management Plan?

A sanctuary management plan is a site-specific planning and management document that describes the objectives, policies and activities for a sanctuary, and guides management actions. Management plans:

  • summarize existing programs and regulations;
  • articulate visions, goals, objectives, and priorities;
  • guide management decision-making;
  • preparation of annual operating plans;
  • guide future project planning;
  • ensure public involvement in management processes; and
  • contribute to the attainment of National Marine Sanctuary goals and objectives.

What is a Management Plan Review?

Over time, all management plans should be reviewed and updated to account for changing conditions and needs. Since the management plan for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary was last revised, new threats and opportunities have emerged in the area of marine resource management.

Management Plan Review, or MPR, is the process by which all national marine sanctuaries review and revise their sanctuary management plans. The sanctuary management plan review process began in 2010 to thoroughly re-examine management priorities. The process will result in a revised management plan for the sanctuary. The target for a draft revised management plan is early 2013 with the final management plan targeted for completion in 2014.



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What are the steps for the review?

The ONMS periodically reviews sanctuary management plans and public input is an important part of the process. This review started with an evaluation of the existing sanctuary management plan, regulations and threats to sanctuary resources, in this case, the humpback whale and its habitat. As identified in the current management plan, the sanctuary and the State of Hawai'i is also considering other resources for possible inclusion in the sanctuary. The public is encouraged to participate in this process and help shape the future of the sanctuary.

Materials, along with other background information about the sanctuary, such as maps, existing regulations and management plans, can be found here.


Public Comment and Scoping Period:
The sanctuary held a 90-day public scoping and comment period from July 14 to October 16, 2010 that included 10 statewide public meetings and over 12,300 submissions received via mail, email, and telephone. The scoping period provided sanctuary users, members of the public and agencies opportunities to comment on current sanctuary management strategies and provide input on what issues and problems they see as management priorities for the next five to ten years. Learn more about the public comment and scoping period.

Priority Issues:
After the public comment and scoping period, the Sanctuary Advisory Council established nine working groups based on priority issues raised by stakeholders. These working groups have developed management recommendations which will be reviewed by the full council prior to submission to sanctuary management. The Sanctuary Advisory Council working group process was a critical contribution of the council to inform action plan development. Learn more about the council's working group process. 

Draft & Final Management Plans: The revised draft management plan will contain a series of action plans that address resource protection and the general management of the sanctuary. Action plans may also propose regulatory changes. After publication of a draft management plan, the sanctuary will host a series of public hearings and also accept written comments, when the public will have another opportunity to influence the draft management plan. An environmental document, such as an Environmental Assessment or 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, make any necessary changes, and coordinate with the State of Hawai'i before issuing the final management plan.  

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What kind of changes can I expect?

Management plan review provides an opportunity for sanctuary staff and the public to shape the future direction and management of each sanctuary. At this time, it is too early to say what changes may occur at the sanctuary as a result of the Management Plan Review process. Sanctuary management will consider comments received during the public comment and scoping period, advisory council recommendations, and consultations with stakeholders, cultural advisors, technical experts, and state and federal agency partners when evaluating and possibly revising the current operation and management framework, as well as resource protection, education, research programs, and site-specific regulations.

Will new resources be added for protection? 

At this time it is too early to predict whether it may be appropriate to add any additional resources to the sanctuary. The purpose of implementing a public process is to comprehensively evaluate the need for adding other resources and determining what added protections the sanctuary could offer for these resources. The sanctuary will include many opportunities for the public to provide their input and comments on this important consideration.


How has the public been involved?

Active and informed public participation is a key element of sanctuary management, particularly during a management plan review. The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) recognizes the public as a key partner and values their input in helping to shape and manage marine sanctuaries. For almost 30 years, the ONMS has engaged the public in creating new sanctuaries, developing resource protection strategies, resolving multi-stakeholder issues (i.e., water quality, vessel traffic, and marine reserves), and more recently, reviewing existing management plans. Using the lessons learned from these experiences, the sanctuary will build community awareness of key issues affecting sanctuary resources and will actively engage user and interest groups, agencies, and the public in an open dialogue about how to best shape the future direction and management of the sanctuary.

The public will have numerous opportunities to participate in management plan review, beginning with the scoping meetings and continuing through the development of the draft and final management plans. The sanctuary will provide notice of each meeting through this website and through local media outlets.


Where can I get more information?

Current information will be provided on this website. You may also contact the Sanctuary office at 1.888.55.WHALE for more information.

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