National Marine Sanctuaries

Protecting what lies underneath the surface

Did you know the United States has a National Marine Sanctuary System made up of 14 marine protected areas encompassing more than 170,000 square miles of ocean and Great Lakes waters?

national marine sanctuaries

Stretching all the way from American Samoa to the very end of Cape Cod, these sanctuaries are safe havens for exploited marine animals. Many iconic places to visit in the United States are part of the system including parts of the Florida Keys, Hawaiian Islands, and the New England Coast.

National Marine Sanctuary System
Map credit: NOAA

Worldwide, less than 1% of marine habitats are protected, compared with 11.5 per cent of global land area. Marine Sanctuaries allow species to recover, protect essential marine habitat from destructive fishing practices, and creates thriving habitats and species that help populate areas outside the protected area.

Despite success of the National Marine Sanctuaries program, which is run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the program has been underfunded for the past few years preventing the 14 sanctuaries from living up to their full potential.

Protect our Sanctuaries!

The good news is you can help ensure sanctuaries receive the funding they need by contacting your elected representatives today. And for the first time in twenty years, you can help expand the sanctuaries program by nominating your favorite marine or Great Lakes waters for consideration as a national marine sanctuary! To learn more about the funding issues click here.

To learn more about marine sanctuaries, read our Ocean Watch article: What is a Marine Protected Area Anyway?

national marine sanctuaries