Policy & Advocacy
National marine sanctuaries provide unique and powerful recognition for particular places set aside for their special biological, ecological, cultural, or historical values. They serve to focus our efforts in addressing the myriad of complex challenges facing our world’s ocean.
The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation was created to support and strengthen the national network of marine sanctuaries established by the U.S. Congress and managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). By supporting the protection of these places in the Pacific, Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Great Lakes, the Foundation seeks to more broadly promote conservation of ocean resources.
Numerous studies have concluded that the marine environment has become seriously degraded by human actions such as overfishing, pollution, and coastal development, and these problems will only become magnified as the world’s climate continues to change. While there is general agreement that something must be done to mitigate these effects, there is still too much talk and too little action with respect to the specific steps to address these very serious issues. Our unique role is to focus our efforts on increasing protection and awareness of national marine sanctuaries. Sanctuaries serve many important roles in ocean conservation: they serve as sentinel sites for resource monitoring and protection; they serve as living laboratories and hands-on classrooms for research and outreach; and they serve as models for connecting stakeholders and partners through cooperative co-management and compatible uses to reduce the harmful impacts of that usage.
Placing our ocean at the top of the environmental agenda for federal policymakers is one of the Foundation’s main goals, and we do it beginning with national marine sanctuaries. The Foundation works diligently to increase federal resources for national marine sanctuaries and to focus attention on key pieces of legislation affecting sanctuaries, including the long overdue reauthorization of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act. Through sanctuaries, the Foundation seeks to promote sound ocean policies that improve resource protection, strengthen scientific understanding, facilitate partnerships, and enhance ocean governance. Through our efforts, national leaders become better equipped to make informed and coordinated decisions that can improve the overall health and sustainability of the ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems now and for the future.