NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries has announced that it plans to reestablish a process for communities to nominate areas of the marine environment for NOAA to consider as new national marine sanctuaries. As the first step, NOAA is calling for public input on the criteria and process the agency would use to evaluate community-based nominations for possible sanctuary designation. After NOAA receives and analyzes all comments, it will publish a final rule with the revised criteria and guidelines for the process to nominate new sites.
The National Marine Sanctuary Program has existed since 1972 and currently includes a network of 13 national marine sanctuaries plus the recently designated Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. In 1995, the agency deactivated its sanctuary nomination process so the program could focus on management of existing sanctuaries. Since then, a number of communities, states, tribes, and other interests have inquired about opportunities to designate new sites.
NOAA's proposed criteria emphasize the importance of community and stakeholder support for new sanctuary designations. The Surfrider Foundation strongly supports these draft criteria, as well as the reestablishment of the nomination process.
NOAA will accept public comments on the proposed rule to reestablish the sanctuary nomination process through August 27, 2013 by the following methods:
Electronic submission (preferred): www.regulations.gov (search for docket # NOAA-NOS-2013-0091)
Mail: Matt Brookhart, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, 1305 East-West Highway, N/NMS, Silver Spring, MD 20910.
For more on the proposed rule and how to comment CLICK HERE
To read Surfrider's Policy on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) CLICK HERE