Looking Over the Horizon: Expanding the Role
of the Sanctuary System Beyond the Continent
In 1986, the sanctuary system reached beyond the continent with the designation of Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary to protect the coral reef ecosystem of a drowned volcano mouth. For years, this site was the smallest and most remote of all sanctuaries. Now, with the June release of the Final Management Plan and the support of the Governor, Fagatele Bay will expand its protections to other important parts of the waters of American Samoa by the end of 2012.
In 1986, the sanctuary system was also emerging as an international leader in marine park management, with the hosting of an international marine protected area meeting of managers and scientists. This meeting would start a tradition of sanctuary system leadership in important global meetings. For example, in March 2009, NOAA co-hosted the First International Conference on Marine Mammal Protected Areas (ICMMPA), bringing together over 200 managers, scientists, and educators from 40 countries. This initiative has resulted in an IUCN task force on marine mammal protected areas, chaired by NOAA. Most recently, in February 2012, NOAA, with support from the Waitt Foundation, hosted an unprecedented summit of marine protected area agencies in San Francisco, California.