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Message from the Director

The National Marine Sanctuary Program has for years managed exciting marine education programs, encouraged the use of innovative technologies within sanctuary waters, supported exciting research and exploration and fostered long-standing partnerships that support our work in so many ways. This past year was no different. In this State of the Sanctuaries Report, you will learn about some of our significant 2005 accomplishments that all help in some way to connect all 300 million Americans to our nation’s natural and cultural maritime heritage. 

One way we are connecting people is through visitor centers. Just about every national park has a visitor center, but they are relatively new for the sanctuary system. This past September, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the State of Michigan were proud to open the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center. Featured on page 26, the center is the anchor of a major redevelopment in Alpena, Mich. We look forward to working with the community, the state and our partners to highlight the invaluable maritime, cultural and natural resources of the Great Lakes and foster economic development through this new facility.

When Jacques-Yves Cousteau first set forth on Calypso, he ushered in a new era where science and education shared equal roles in oceanographic expeditions. The sanctuary program also understands the importance of having vessels that can accomplish many things. You can learn about the latest additions to the sanctuary fleet, such as the 36-foot Sam Gray. The sanctuary program will be building additional small boats that are designed to meet our specific on-the-water science, monitoring, enforcement and education requirements.

A consistent theme throughout this accomplishments report is partnerships, but few were as important in 2005 than our growing partnerships with NOAA Fisheries and the regional fishery management councils. How we are working together varies from region to region, but each effort is resulting in implementing improved ecosystem-based management measures to manage and protect sanctuary resources.

But one of the biggest activities happening this past year is that NOAA, the State of Hawai‘i and our other management partners are making significant progress to designate the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve as the nation’s 14th marine sanctuary. Click here to learn how NOAA is moving forward to establish a sanctuary that encompasses one of the most remote coral reef ecosystems on earth. Learn more about becoming personally involved in the effort to protect a unique and diverse ecosystem unlike any in the world by visiting our Web site, sanctuaries.noaa.gov.

On a more personal note, I want to acknowledge all who have contributed to our accomplishments this past year. Through these difficult times, the sanctuary program continues to be at the forefront of effecting a sea change in how we collectively work together to manage our oceans. Nevertheless, there is much hard work ahead for all of us as the 21st century begins.

I hope you enjoy reading about the exciting activities and accomplishments that went into making 2005 another special year for the National Marine Sanctuary Program and catch a glimpse on what is underway in 2006.

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