This new process, finalized earlier this year, will result in an inventory of areas NOAA could consider for national marine sanctuary designation. Nominations submitted by interested communities will describe a proposed area’s national significance and the feasibility of managing it as a national marine sanctuary. Nominating communities can include individuals, as well as local, regional, and national interests and organizations, that believe their special place will benefit from becoming a national marine sanctuary. Nominations that successfully complete the process and are added to the inventory will not automatically be selected by NOAA for sanctuary designation. Any sanctuary designation would be conducted as a separate process, as described in the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.
In 1995, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries deactivated the previous process for nominating new sanctuaries. Since that time members of Congress, state officials, tribal governments, non-governmental organizations, and others have expressed interest in pursuing new national marine sanctuaries, recognizing their ability to protect treasured places and enhance local economies. NOAA received tremendous amounts of feedback from the general public on this new proposal (nearly 18,000 comments – the majority of which favored the move).
The updated 2014 sanctuary nomination process represents the culmination of years of work among many, especially those working in the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. I am very proud to be part of an organization that is so committed to place-based conservation.
Holly A. Bamford, Ph.D.
Assistant Administrator for Ocean Services and Coastal
Zone Management, National Ocean Service