Franklin Point, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (credit: Robert Schwemmer).
Today at Capitol Hill Ocean Week, John Podesta announced that NOAA will be publishing a final rule re-establishing the process by which the American public can nominate nationally significant marine and Great Lakes areas as potential new national marine sanctuaries. We're taking this step to address the growing number of requests for new national marine sanctuaries. ...And your nearly 18,000 comments on the proposed rule, published in June 2013, vastly favor this move.
NOAA's statutory mandate to identify, designate and protect marine areas of special national significance has existed since 1972 through the National Marine Sanctuaries Act. In 1995, the agency deactivated its sanctuary nomination process (known as the Site Evaluation List, or SEL) so that ONMS could focus on management of the existing sanctuary system. Since then, numerous individuals and entities - Members of Congress, state and tribal governments, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and others - have inquired about designating a national marine sanctuary in a variety of coastal communities. Now, for the first time in 19 years, the SEL, which tended to be an agency-driven, "top-down" approach to sanctuary nominations, will be replaced by the sanctuary nomination process, which is based on a more grassroots, "bottom-up" approach.
Notably, while this action allows communities from around the country to nominate their most treasured areas as national marine sanctuaries, it does not guarantee sanctuary designation, nor does it add new regulations to areas in the marine or Great Lakes.
This is your opportunity to protect your treasured places and ensure that they, and the resources contained within, are conserved for generations to come.
We encourage your participation and look forward to your continued engagement. For more information, check out sanctuaries.noaa.gov/management/nomination/.
Daniel J. Basta
Director, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
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