National Marine Sanctuaries
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#36 1983
Ex-Site-tation: Thinking Ahead About New Sanctuaries

With its emerging system identity, the sanctuary system was giving thought to what other areas of U.S. waters should be considered for addition. In 1983, NOAA decided that the List of Recommended Areas was both unwieldy and unscientific, and completed the Site Evaluation List (or SEL), a scientifically rigorous and publicly reviewed list of sites that included a number of future sanctuaries, including Monterey Bay, Olympic Coast, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale, and Thunder Bay. In 1995, NOAA decided to deactivate the SEL so that it could focus on managing several newly designated sanctuaries.

Today, as numerous communities are expressing their interest in having a sanctuary, NOAA is analyzing the possibility of reactivating the SEL. Reactivation is being considered as part of the Strategic Action Plans to implement the National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes. This action would be to "characterize and prioritize marine areas of national significance, including consideration of ecosystem services, by reactivating [the SEL]." A new SEL would be the first step in a renewed scientifically driven, publicly vetted process to expand the protection of the sanctuary system to new areas.

Parks and protected areas are part of our American heritage and the legacy we leave our descendants. Chances are, there is an array of local, state, and federal parks in the lands and waters near you, providing recreational and economic opportunities and protecting the natural resources vital to both. They could always use your help as a volunteer and your support as a member of the community. Find the marine protected areas near you, then visit them in person and online to learn ways you can help.

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More information on the National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes
For any questions about the SEL, please contact