Office of National Marine Sanctuaries


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Recreational Fishing in National Marine Sanctuaries

Fundamental American Value
Recreating on our public lands and waters is an American tradition. National Marine Sanctuaries provide citizens with opportunities to responsibly enjoy special ocean places, while also safeguarding their unique beauty, diversity and historical significance for future generations. National Marine Sanctuaries encourage recreational anglers to experience nature first-hand and develop a greater appreciation for American's great outdoors.

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Conservation Ethic
Recreational anglers spend much of their free time on the water and are often the first to observe changes in the natural environment. By practicing sustainable fishing; advocating for, and participating in, the development of better fisheries data and science; improving habitat; and engaging in the policy process, recreational anglers have the ability to be great stewards of our marine resources. Their commitment to protecting the ocean for future generations is a value that is shared by National Marine Sanctuaries.

Responsible Stewardship
Recreational anglers are among our ocean's most ardent conservationists. NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries works with anglers to promote new methods of responsible stewardship within the community. Programs such as the Sanctuary Classic, an annual, summer-long fishing and photo contest, and local catch-and-release workshops build partnerships that help support our collective conservation goals.

Community Involvement
In working to protect National Marine Sanctuaries, managers system-wide rely on the vast pool of knowledge of local resource users, including recreational anglers. Sanctuary advisory councils and working groups provide advice and recommendations to managers on critical issues facing each sanctuary. Anglers have considerable incentive for protecting sanctuary resources and a stake in the outcome of these efforts. Our success is dependent on their involvement.

Sanctuary Science
As every angler knows, fishing can suffer when the marine ecosystem is compromised. Indeed, recreational anglers have worked in cooperation with sanctuary scientists to eliminate threats to sanctuary resources, such as lionfish. National Marine Sanctuaries routinely monitor basic indicators of ecosystem health, including habitat and water quality - a direct benefit to anglers. Long-term monitoring data provide resource managers with the information necessary to identify ecosystem change over time. Without this information, managers would never know how natural and human-caused pressures are affecting ecosystems, and if management actions are achieving resource protection and improvement goals. To this end, while the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries generally encourages recreational fishing, there are some especially vulnerable places within sanctuaries where limits are placed on the activity.

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For More Information
Follow the links below for more information on best practices for recreational fishing and information on how you can get involved in fisheries management.

Northeast and Great Lakes

Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Recreational Fishing
NMFS Northeast Regional Office
Massachussettes Department of Fish and Game, Recreational Fishing
Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fishing Guide

Southeast and Gulf of Mexico

Fishing within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Fishing within Gray's Reef
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary Regulations (general)
Flower Garden Banks Regulations
NMFS Southeast Regional Office
Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Fishing Regulations
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Texas Parks and Wildlife Recreational Fishing Regulations

West Coast

Sanctuary regulations (general):
Olympic Coast
Cordell Bank
Gulf of the Farallones
Monterey Bay
NMFS Northwest Regional Office
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife - Fishing and Shellfishing
NMFS Southwest Region: Marine Recreational Fisheries Program
NMFS Southwest Region: Recreational Fishing Services Team, Pacific
California Department of Fish and Game, Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations


Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary: Boating and Ocean Recreation

More Resources:


Recreational Fishing Services, National Marine Fisheries Service
Marine Recreational Information Program

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Revised February 02, 2015 by Sanctuaries Web Team | Contact Us | Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service
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