|Formed||October 23, 1972|
|Jurisdiction||United States federal government|
|Headquarters||1305 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910|
|Annual budget||$50 million (2016)|
|Parent agency||National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration|
A U.S. National Marine Sanctuary is a zone within United States waters where the marine environment enjoys special protection.The program began in 1972 in response to public concern about the plight of marine ecosystems.
A U.S. National Marine Sanctuary is a federally designated area within United States waters that protects areas of the marine environment with special conservation, recreational, ecological, historical, cultural, archeological, scientific, educational, or aesthetic qualities. While National Marine Sanctuaries are multiple-use areas, the NMSA emphasizes that one of the express purposes of a sanctuary is to “maintain the natural biological communities” and to “protect and, where appropriate, restore and enhance natural habitats, populations, and ecological processes.” The National Marine Sanctuary System consists of 15 marine protected areas that encompass more than 783,000 square miles (2,030,000 km2). Individual areas range from less than 1 to 583,000 square miles (3 to 1,509,963 km2).
The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) administers the 15 national marine sanctuaries. The program began after the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill off the coast of California brought the plight of marine ecosystems to national attention. The United States Congress responded in 1972 with the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act which allowed for the creation of marine sanctuaries. The resources protected by U.S. national marine sanctuaries range from coral reef ecosystems in American Samoa, Florida, Hawaii, and Texas, to shipwrecks in the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, while not a U.S. national marine sanctuary, is also jointly administered by the NMSP, in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of Hawaii.
Designation as a National Marine Sanctuary does not automatically prohibit fishing and other activities. Recreational and commercial fishing is allowed in some sanctuaries. It is possible to restrict consumptive or destructive activities through the initial designation process and NMSP actions.[ citation needed ] There are restrictions in some sanctuaries that are enforced by other governing agencies. For example, current regulations restricting fishing in Stellwagen Bank were not issued by the NMSP, but rather by NOAA Fisheries and the New England Fishery Management Council, which have jurisdiction in federal waters off the New England coast generally. The private non-profit Marine Conservation Institute has compiled fact sheets for each sanctuary listing activities which are directly regulated by the NMSP.
Site selection is done under the auspices of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Regional teams of marine scientists identify geographically representative sites for potential marine sanctuaries. NOAA then selects candidate sites and meets with state resource managers and/or the governor's staff to determine the interest level. If there is mutually satisfactory interest, the candidate sites are evaluated through a process of public and legislative review and validated by congressional, state, and territorial governments. NOAA initiates the designation by the preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and a proposed management plan. Notice is published in the Federal Register. Regional meetings and public hearings are held to gather comments. Congress receives the draft statements and may conduct hearings. A Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) that addresses the concerns raised in the DEIS process is prepared and distributed for comment. The Secretary of Commerce, upon approval of the US President, designates the area as a National Marine Sanctuary. The US Congress and the governor of the state or territory may formally object to or appeal against the designation.
The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is a sanctuary off the Pacific coast of Southern California. The National Marine Sanctuary program is administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The National Ocean Service (NOS), an office within the U.S. Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is responsible for preserving and enhancing the nation's coastal resources and ecosystems along 95,000 miles (153,000 km) of shoreline bordering 3,500,000 square miles (9,100,000 km2) of coastal, Great Lakes, and ocean waters. Its mission is to "provide science-based solutions through collaborative partnerships to address evolving economic, environmental, and social pressures on our oceans and coasts." NOS works closely with many partner agencies to ensure that ocean and coastal areas are safe, healthy, and productive. National Ocean Service scientists, natural resource managers, and specialists ensure safe and efficient marine transportation, promote innovative solutions to protect coastal communities, and conserve marine and coastal places. NOS is a scientific and technical organization of 1,700 scientists, natural resource managers, and specialists in many different fields.
The Farallon Islands, or Farallones, are a group of islands and sea stacks in the Gulf of the Farallones, off the coast of San Francisco, California, United States. The islands are also sometimes referred to by mariners as the Devil's Teeth Islands, in reference to the many treacherous underwater shoals in their vicinity. The islands lie 30 miles (48 km) outside the Golden Gate and 20 miles (32 km) south of Point Reyes, and are visible from the mainland on clear days. The islands are part of the City and County of San Francisco. The only inhabited portion of the islands is on Southeast Farallon Island (SEFI), where researchers from Point Blue Conservation Science and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stay. The islands are closed to the public.
The Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary protects the wildlife, habitats, and cultural resources of one of the most diverse and bountiful marine environments in the world, an area of 3,295 square miles off the northern and central California coast. The waters within Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary are part of a nationally significant marine ecosystem, and support an abundance of life, including many threatened or endangered species.
The Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS) is a United States National Marine Sanctuary located 100 nautical miles (190 km) offshore of Galveston, Texas, in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. It contains the northernmost coral reefs in the United States.
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve is a United States National Marine Sanctuary on Lake Huron's Thunder Bay, within the northeastern region of the U.S. state of Michigan. It protects an estimated 116 historically significant shipwrecks ranging from nineteenth-century wooden side-wheelers to twentieth-century steel-hulled steamers. There are a great many wrecks in the sanctuary, and their preservation and protection is a concern for national policymakers. The landward boundary of the sanctuary extends from the western boundary of Presque Isle County to the southern boundary of Alcona County. The sanctuary extends east from the lakeshore to the international border. Alpena is the largest city in the area.
The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) is a US Federally protected marine area offshore of California's Big Sur and central coast. It is the largest US national marine sanctuary and has a shoreline length of 276 miles (444 km) stretching from just north of the Golden Gate Bridge at San Francisco to Cambria in San Luis Obispo County. Supporting one of the world’s most diverse marine ecosystems, it is home to numerous mammals, seabirds, fishes, invertebrates and plants in a remarkably productive coastal environment. The MBNMS was established in 1992 for the purpose of resource protection, research, education, and public use.
Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary is a marine sanctuary located off the coast of California. It protects an area of 1,286 sq mi (3,331 km2) of marine wildlife. The administrative center of the sanctuary is on an offshore granite outcrop 4.5 sq mi (12 km2) by 9.5 sq mi (25 km2), located on the continental shelf off of California. The outcrop is, at its closest, 6 mi (10 km) from the sanctuary itself.
Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (MPRSA) or Ocean Dumping Act is one of several key environmental laws passed by the US Congress in 1972. The Act has two essential aims: to regulate intentional ocean disposal of materials, and to authorize any related research. While the MPRSA regulates the ocean dumping of waste and provides for a research program on ocean dumping, it also provides for the designation and regulation of marine sanctuaries. The act regulates the ocean dumping of all material beyond the territorial limit and prevents or strictly limits dumping material that "would adversely affect human health, welfare, or amenities, or the marine environment, ecological systems, or economic potentialities". The MPRSA authorized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate ocean dumping of materials including, but not limited to, industrial waste, sewage sludge, biological agents, radioactive agents, NBC, garbage, chemicals, and biological and laboratory, as well as other wastes, into the territorial waters of the United States through a permit program. The EPA can issue permits for dumping of materials other than dredge spoils if the agency determines, through a full public notice and process, that the discharge will not unreasonably degrade or endanger human health or welfare or the marine environment. The law also has provisions related to creating marine sanctuaries, conducting ocean disposal research and monitoring coastal water quality.
The National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa is a national marine sanctuary in American Samoa. It is the smallest, yet one of the most important, marine sanctuaries as it is home to more fish and marine mammals than any other marine sanctuary. It also provides a natural food source for sharks and other predators of the ocean.
The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is a World Heritage listed U.S. National Monument encompassing 583,000 square miles (1,510,000 km2) of ocean waters, including ten islands and atolls of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Created in June 2006 with 140,000 square miles (360,000 km2), it was expanded in August 2016 by moving its border to the limit of the exclusive economic zone, making it one of the world's largest protected areas. It is internationally known for its cultural and natural values as follows:
"The area has deep cosmological and traditional significance for living Native Hawaiian culture, as an ancestral environment, as an embodiment of the Hawaiian concept of kinship between people and the natural world, and as the place where it is believed that life originates and to where the spirits return after death. On two of the islands, Nihoa and Mokumanamana, there are archaeological remains relating to pre-European settlement and use. Much of the monument is made up of pelagic and deepwater habitats, with notable features such as seamounts and submerged banks, extensive coral reefs and lagoons."
James Preston Delgado is a maritime archaeologist, historian, maritime preservation expert, author, television host, and explorer.
Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is an 842-square-mile (638-square-nautical-mile) federally protected marine sanctuary located at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay, between Cape Cod and Cape Ann. It is known as an excellent whale watching site, and is home to many other species of marine life.
The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is one of the world's most important whale habitats, hosting thousands of humpbacks each winter.
PS Portland was a large side-wheel paddle steamer, an ocean-going steamship with side-mounted paddlewheels. She was built in 1889 for passenger service between Boston, Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine. She is best known as the namesake of the infamous Portland Gale of 1898, a massive blizzard that struck coastal New England, claiming the lives of over 400 people and more than 150 vessels.
As with other countries, the 200 nautical miles (370 km) exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the coast of the United States gives its fishing industry special fishing rights. It covers 11.4 million square kilometres, which is the second largest zone in the world, exceeding the land area of the United States.
Gallinipper was a schooner that sank in Lake Michigan off the coast of Centerville, Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, United States. In 2010, the shipwreck site was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The loggerhead sea turtle, is protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973. It was originally listed as a threatened species on July 28, 1978. The turtle's status was updated to Vulnerable (VU) on August 23, 2018. The loggerhead turtle is the most prolific species of sea turtle in U.S. coastal waters.
The Marine Policy of the Barack Obama administration comprises several significant environmental policy decisions for the oceans made during his two terms in office from 2009 to 2017. By executive action, President Obama increased fourfold the amount of protected marine space in waters under United States control, setting an important precedent for global ocean conservation. Using the U.S. president's authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906, he expanded to 200 nautical miles the seaward limits of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument around the U.S. island possessions in the Central Pacific. In the Atlantic, President Obama created the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, the first marine monument in the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Atlantic.
The Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary is one of 15 United States National Marine Sanctuaries administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an agency of the United States Department of Commerce; NOAA co-manages the sanctuary jointly with the State of Wisconsin. It is located in Lake Michigan along the coast of Wisconsin. It was created to protect shipwrecks considered nationally important archaeological resources.