Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

NOS Fiscal Year 2017 Year in Review

Review of Designations and Expansions of National Marine Sanctuaries

Divers explore Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA

Divers explore Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA

Pursuant to Executive Order 13795—implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy, signed on April 28, 2017—NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) conducted a review of all designations and expansions of national marine sanctuaries and ONMS co-managed marine national monuments since April 28, 2007. In consultation with the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Interior, and Secretary of Homeland Security, the 11 designations and expansions were analyzed for the acreage affected and budgetary impacts of the costs of managing each site; the adequacy of any required federal, state, and/or tribal consultations conducted before the designations or expansions occurred; and the costs associated with potential energy and mineral exploration and production from the Outer Continental Shelf, adjacent to and/or in national marine sanctuary waters. Across all national marine sanctuaries, about $8 billion annually is generated in local coastal- and ocean-dependent economies from diverse activities such as commercial and recreational fishing, other recreation and tourism activities, and research. During the public comment period, more than 98,000 responses in support of the existence of national marine sanctuaries were received.

National Marine Sanctuary System Five-Year Strategy

NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) voluntarily solicited public input on its draft strategy to direct national and local efforts to protect national marine sanctuaries. The plan, Our Vision for America’s Treasured Ocean Place outlines the five-year course for managing these sites. The document will be the roadmap for the next five years, culminating in 2022 with the ONMS 50th anniversary. While ONMS was not required to solicit public comments, public involvement in national marine sanctuaries management is a longstanding core value that is sought at every opportunity. Reliance on input and participation from staff, partners, policymakers, and the public, and recognition of their role in helping to achieve success, is an ONMS priority.

Sharing Underwater Exploration with the World

NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) teamed up with the Ocean Exploration Trust to explore West Coast marine ecosystems. Working aboard the Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus, scientists mapped and investigated underwater locations from Canada to Mexico. Channel Islands, Cordell Bank, and Olympic Coast national marine sanctuaries were explored by remotely operated vehicles. The ship is equipped with telepresence, which allowed scientists across the globe to participate and contribute to the mission’s success. Telepresence and livestreaming brought the largely unexplored ocean depths of national marine sanctuaries to the classroom, as thousands of students engaged directly with mission staff and operations.

Recreational Fishing Summit

NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) and NOAA Fisheries held a “National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council Recreational Fishing Summit” to foster ongoing dialogues and enhance effective engagement with the nation's recreational fishing constituency as represented by the two offices’ national marine sanctuary advisory councils. Approximately 30 participants, including 11 sanctuary advisory council representatives, convened to discuss recreational fishing in sanctuaries and efforts to improve the relationship between NOAA and recreational fishers. NOAA assembled and facilitated small breakout groups to maximize productive discussions. The sessions were organized around discrete topics, such as common perceptions about fishing and ideal fishing experiences in sanctuaries. As a result of the summit, NOAA and advisory council representatives agreed to a set of common statements regarding recreational fishing in sanctuaries and outlined steps for working together.

Discovery of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter McCulloch

In FY 2017, a joint NOAA-U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) training mission off the Southern California coast confirmed the location of the USCG Cutter McCulloch. Working off of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary's Research Vessel (R/V) Shearwater, a VideoRay Mission Specialist remotely operated vehicle was deployed to survey and characterize the remains of the historically significant U.S. military shipwreck. The McCulloch played a key role in a major Pacific battle of the Spanish-American War and also became part of the Bering Sea Patrol, which enforced fur seal regulations and served as a “floating courtroom” in the Alaska Territory. In 1917, the McCulloch was en route to Mare Island, California, to support World War I patrol duties when it collided with the passenger steamer USS Governor off Point Conception. All 90 of McCulloch’s crew members were safely taken aboard the Governor, but the incapacitated cutter sank to the sea floor. As a result of the collaborative effort between USCG and NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, the discovery of the McCulloch helps close an important chapter in USCG and U.S. Navy history while honoring the ship's service and crew.