Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

Your national marine sanctuaries are centers for strong local economies and have economic value reaching far beyond the water.

open quote marksI believe national marine sanctuaries are an essential part of the ocean infrastructure, and one of our best hopes of making sure the ocean economy we have grown to depend on is sustainable and productive for generations to come.
end quote marks
- Dr. Linwood Pendleton
Acting Chief Economist, NOAA

From restaurants and hotels, to aquariums and kayak operators, the success of many businesses, millions of dollars in sales and thousands of jobs, directly depend on thriving national marine sanctuaries.

Across all national marine sanctuaries, about $4 billion annually is generated in local coastal and ocean dependent economies from diverse activities like commercial fishing, research and recreation-tourist activities.

  • According to a 2005 study1, counties surrounding Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary garner $100 million in sales associated with sanctuary activities, $39.1 million in personal income to residents, $59.1 million in value added and 1,704 jobs.

  • Between 2000 and 2003, there were, on average, 473 commercial fishing operations and one kelp harvester in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. The value of harvest/landings was $29.6 million; with multiplier impacts, this value translates to almost $88 million in income, which supported 2,000 jobs in seven California counties.

  • windsurfers Windsurfers ride winds and waves in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.(Photo: Kip Evans)
    Between 1981 and 2003, the seven most important fisheries in the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries yielded landings worth more than $31 million per year, accounting for 92 percent of landings and revenues in the Northern California ports.

  • From 2007 to 2008, more than 400,000 visitors and residents of the Florida Keys engaged in over 2 million person-days of recreational sports fishing. These recreational fishers spent $274 million in Monroe County/Florida Keys, approximately $107.6 million of which was directly spent on fishing items.

  • A study2 completed in 2000 estimated that Massachusetts alone accounted for nearly 80 percent of New England whale watching tour totals, generating $31.3 million; virtually all of Massachusetts whale watching occurs in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

  • Between 2007-2008, approximately 739,000 visitors and residents participated in 2.8 million days of diving in the Florida Keys; $54 million was spent at diving/snorkeling operations. Moreover, divers spent a total of $470 million in Monroe County, Florida Keys, supporting more than 7,500 jobs.

  • commercial fishing at sunset Commercial fishers pause at sunset in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Glenn Allen)
    Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary provides opportunities for approximately 25 marine science facilities; these facilities employed almost 2,000 people in 2004 with a combined budget of over $200 million.

  • The total benefits of coral reefs to American Samoa residents and visitors are estimated to be worth around $5 million per year.

  • In the Pacific Northwest, Treaty Tribes are connected economically, culturally and spiritually to natural resources found on their reserved lands and within their usual and accustomed hunting, fishing and gathering areas; Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary is helping preserve resources critical for sustaining these ocean-dependant livelihoods that have existed along this coast for thousands of years.
National marine sanctuaries continue to build stronger communities, support local economies and maintain coastal cultures - true American treasures. We are committed to supporting lives and livelihoods across the nation and in sanctuary communities through socioeconomic research to better understand the economic and social drivers of sanctuary resources and improve management practices.

More information about National Marine Sanctuaries socioeconomics.

Click here pdf icon to print a version of this page.

1 Ehler, Rod and Jordan Parrillo. Northeast Michigan Integrated Assessment Final Report: Socioeconomic Assessment. NOAA and Michigan Sea Grant. 2009.

2 Hoagland, Porter and Andrew E. Meeks. The Demand for Whalewatching at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Marine Policy Center, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. 2000.


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Revised May 23, 2012 by Sanctuaries Web Team | Contact Us | Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service
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