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History of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

What is a National Marine Sanctuary?

National marine sanctuaries are our nation's underwater "crown jewels," much like our treasured national parks. NOAA's National Marine Sanctuaries serves as the trustee for a system of 15 underwater parks ranging from Washington to Florida, and Lake Huron to American Samoa. Within their protected waters, humpback whales breed and calve, coral colonies flourish and shipwrecks tell the stories of our maritime history. Each sanctuary is a unique place—an underwater world so rich in biological and cultural resources that it needs to be protected and managed. Natural classrooms, cherished recreational spots, and valuable commercial industries-marine sanctuaries represent many things to many people.

Why Have Sanctuaries?

Our very existence and future depends upon the sea, yet oceans worldwide are being harmed by human activities such as pollution, habitat destruction, over-harvesting and coastal development. The ocean covers more than 70 percent of the earth, but is among the least explored ecosystem. If we are to live on this planet in ways that sustain our needs, we must better understand the world's ocean, and accord it the protection it deserves. Marine sanctuaries are one way to protect the marine environment, ensuring a healthy future for us all.

Designation of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary was designated September 18, 1992 by the federal government (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) under the authority of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act. It became the eleventh national marine sanctuary. Congress affirmed the designation of the sanctuary for its biological richness, unique habitats, threatened and endangered animals, and the presence of shipwrecks and other cultural relics. Designation followed over ten years of public support for its creation.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), under the United States Department of Commerce (DOC), manages the National Marine Sanctuary System, which includes 13 sites and one marine national monument. Each sanctuary develops and follows a management plan that ensures resource protection, provides for research and education, and facilitates recreational and commercial uses compatible with the primary goal of resource protection. This work is conducted by the MBNMS Superintendent and approximately 30 staff and contractors based in the main office in Monterey and in satellite offices in Santa Cruz and San Simeon. Creating partnerships and strong involvement with the local community are key elements in protecting these unique sites. Numerous agencies, citizens, businesses, scientists, educators and environmental organizations play critical roles in leveraging the efforts of sanctuary staff. In addition, another key element in shaping management is the Sanctuary Advisory Council, which advises on sanctuary activities and policies. The Council's 20 voting members represent a variety of local user groups, as well as the general public, plus seven local, state and federal governmental jurisdictions.

Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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