The Citizen as Advisor: Involving the Community in Sanctuary Management
With the establishment of the sanctuary advisory council for Monitor National Marine Sanctuary in 2005, the suite of advisory councils for the sanctuary system was complete. This means that, as of 2010, nearly 740 people were actively engaged in sanctuary advisory councils, including 472 council members (and alternates) and nearly 260 additional individuals serving on council working groups. Collectively, these individuals dedicated more than 17,000 hours annually to serving as liaisons between their community constituents and the sanctuary.
Since the first sanctuary advisory council was authorized for Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in 1990, councils have become a vital and fundamental component of sanctuary management. These councils, with their wide range of perspectives and experiences, provide opportunities for sanctuary management to gather advice and recommendations from user groups, government agencies, and the public at large on critical issues facing our ocean. Collaboration, passion, and hard work by council members lead to stronger connections between sanctuaries and the public and increased stewardship for sanctuary resources.