New National Marine Sanctuary Designations Driven by “Power of Community Voice”

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Last week’s announcement by President Barack Obama that NOAA seeks to designate two U.S. marine areas as the first two new national marine sanctuaries in 15 years is “a great success story demonstrating the power of the community voice,” according to the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation

NMSF is the chief non-profit, charitable partner of the country’s National Marine Sanctuary System, currently covering more than 175,000 square miles of ocean and Great Lakes waters, and supports their programs, conservation, education, and community engagement activities.

The two locations chosen by NOAA to join the 14 current sites managed as the National Marine Sanctuary System are Lake Michigan, Wisconsin, and Mallows Bay-Potomac River, Maryland. Both sites are home to numerous historic shipwrecks of national significance, and ecosystems sustaining threatened marine life. The forthcoming designation process includes further public engagement required under law to ensure it is in the national interest.

Mallows Bay-Potomac River, Ship's hull providing structure for ecologically-important habitat. (Photo: Don Shomette)
Mallows Bay-Potomac River, Ship’s hull providing structure for ecologically-important habitat.
Photo by Don Shomette.

NMSF has been a strong advocate with the Administration on behalf of the restoration of the public sanctuary nomination process and the official announcement of its reopening was made by the White House at NMSF’s Capitol Hill Ocean Week in June 2014. Since 2010, NMSF has also worked extensively with communities interested in local sanctuary designations including coalition building, connecting them with elected officials through workshops and other communications and providing them with grants to help fund their work.

“When Americans are empowered with the ability to celebrate, protect, and ensure the future of the ocean places of significance to them, they join in,” said Jason Patlis, President and CEO, NMSF. “The Administration’s belief in the value of a reinvigorated, transparent nominations process and the public’s phenomenal response emonstrate a shared national commitment to ensure a healthy ocean for generations. We are delighted that NMSF has been able to serve as a catalyst in this effort on multiple levels and look forward to more sanctuaries being designated for the system.”

“We thank the President and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as trustee for National Marine Sanctuaries, for their leadership and commitment to protecting these vital ocean places.”


Top photo: A diver swims over the two masted schooner, Walter B. Allen. Photo by Tamara Thomsen, courtesy Wisconsin Historical Society. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.