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Marine Protected Areas

Stellwagen Bank

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Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

The Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is an 842-square-mile (638-square-nautical-mile) marine protected area at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay. The sanctuary boundary is somewhat rectangular, stretching from three miles southeast of Cape Ann to three miles north of Cape Cod. The sanctuary is about 25 miles east of Boston, and lies totally within federal waters. It encompasses all of Stellwagen and Tillies Banks, and the southern portion of Jeffreys Ledge.

Stellwagen Bank is an underwater plateau at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay, formed by the same processes that formed outer Cape Cod. As the ice sheets of the last Great Ice Age retreated, they left behind sand, gravel and rock. At one point in time (perhaps 12,000 years ago), Stellwagen Bank was actually above sea level, but as sea level rose and the glaciers continued to melt, the bank gradually submerged beneath the sea.

Goal of MFP Policy

The SBNMS has been a very important fishing ground for almost four centuries. The primary goal of MFP policy regarding the SBNMS is to ensure that commercial fishing remains an integral part of the SBNMS ecosystem. Our vision is that fishermen become integral to the scientific research and monitoring work of the SBNMS, adding their significant observational contribution to promote the protection of resources in addition to their harvesting role.