How does a sanctuary protect marine life?

Sanctuary managers use a combination of science, education, and enforcement to protect marine life

NMS protects marine life

Our national marine sanctuaries use a variety of mechanisms to understand and protect marine resources.

National marine sanctuary staff conduct research and use that science to better understand the marine environment at all 14 sites. This knowledge is necessary to establish an effective strategy for protection.

Public education and appreciation for marine resources is needed for protection. Education programs exist at all sanctuary sites. An educated public understands how to interact in the environment to avoid damaging marine resources and will help to promote the main conservation messages.

The sanctuaries also implement a permit system to regulate and oversee potentially harmful activities in sanctuaries. This framework may be enhanced by the adoption of state and other federal laws and regulations.

Another important tool is “interpretive enforcement,” emphasizing education about responsible behavior as a proactive method to prevent harmful resource impacts from occurring in the first place.

The National Marine Sanctuaries Act, along with site-specific legislation and regulations, provides the legal framework outlining the activities that are allowed or prohibited.