Policy & Advocacy

National marine sanctuaries provide unique and powerful recognition for places of national significance 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 ocean.

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.

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation was created to support and strengthen the national system of marine sanctuaries and plays a vital role in connecting the American public to the ocean through these special places. NMSF 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, NMSF seeks to promote sound ocean policies that improve resource protection, strengthen scientific understanding, forge 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.

Strengthening and Expanding Our Existing Sanctuaries

Efforts are underway across the country to strengthen and expand our existing national marine sanctuaries. NMSF is working alongside local community groups to ensure that expansion efforts will help better protect ecological, cultural, and maritime heritage resources.

Adding New Sanctuary Sites

Communities around the country are ready for new national marine sanctuaries, and in 2014 we’re moving one step closer to making new sanctuaries a reality. For the first time in 20 years, NOAA is reestablishing a community-driven process to nominate new sites in the ocean and Great Lakes for consideration as national marine sanctuaries.

Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW®)

Dive into the premier ocean policy even held annually in our nation’s capital! CHOW brings together hundreds of our nation’s government officials, business executives, academics and conservation leaders in an annual forum here in the heart of Capitol Hill to examine and discuss a broad range of vital ocean issues that must be addressed.


Budget and Appropriations for the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

Sanctuaries have not received sufficient appropriations for several consecutive budget cycles, affecting the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries' ability to effectively fulfill its mandates in managing the 14 sites that comprise the National Marine Sanctuary System.

National Marine Sanctuary Caucus

NMSF works in close collaboration with the bipartisan National Marine Sanctuary Caucus to help educate and inform Members of Congress, the Administration, and the public about national marine sanctuaries and the challenges they face.

Members Roundtable

On November 4, 2015, together with the House National Marine Sanctuary Caucus, NMSF hosted a Members Roundtable on our Nation’s Underwater Heritage. This Roundtable brought six Members of the House of Representatives together to take a deep dive into the importance of maritime heritage, national marine sanctuaries, and the role of tourism and recreation in spurring local economies and creating civic pride.

Congressional Briefing Series

NMSF works to ensure that our leaders in Congress know the vital role that national marine sanctuaries play for a healthy ocean as well as a healthy economy.

Additional Initiatives

Ocean acidification

Restoring the Gulf

Donate Now

Help protect our national marine sanctuaries. Your support helps our mission to enhance national marine sanctuaries in their goal to protect essential U.S. marine areas and to ensure a healthy ocean.

Donate Now!

Sanctuary Store

New item: Sanctuary Notecards illustrated by Sherman's Lagoon creator Jim Toomey

Shop Now