Lake Ontario

NOAA seeks public comment on proposed national marine sanctuary in Lake Ontario

Four public meetings to be held in New York

Map showing boundary and approximate location of shipwrecks in the proposed national marine sanctuary.
Map showing boundary and approximate location of shipwrecks in the proposed national marine sanctuary. View larger map. Map: NOAA

NOAA is asking the public to comment on the possibility of designating a national marine sanctuary in eastern Lake Ontario to protect historically significant shipwrecks and related maritime heritage resources. The agency will hold four public meetings on the proposal announced in the Federal Register. This is the first step in the designation process.


The proposed 1,700-square-mile sanctuary, adjacent to Oswego, Jefferson, Cayuga, and Wayne counties, would protect 21 known shipwrecks and one military aircraft representing events spanning more than 200 years of our nation's history. An additional 47 shipwrecks and two aircraft are also likely located within the proposed sanctuary boundaries, based on historical records.

The proposed sanctuary also includes a separate area surrounding the HMS Ontario, which is both the oldest confirmed shipwreck (1780) and the only fully-intact British warship discovered in the Great Lakes.

The public is invited to weigh in on the proposal during a comment period through July 31, 2019.

How to comment

The public can comment on the proposed sanctuary online, by mail, or in person at a public meeting.

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Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal, Use docket number NOAA-NOS-2019-0032.

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Comments on the proposed national marine sanctuary in Lake Ontario should be addressed to:

Ellen Brody
Great Lakes Regional Coordinator
NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
4840 South State Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48108

All comments must be submitted or postmarked by July 31, 2019.

Public meetings

NOAA also will host meetings at the following locations on the dates and times specified to answer questions and gather public input:

Sterling, New York (Cayuga County)
Date: June 10, 2019
Location: Fair Haven Fire Hall
Address: 14447 Fair Haven Road, Sterling, NY
Time: 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Lyons, New York (Wayne County)
Date: June 11, 2019
Location: Emergency Operations Center
Address: 7376 Route 31, Lyons, NY
Time: 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Oswego, New York (Oswego County)
Date: June 12, 2019
Location: Lake Ontario Conference Center
Address: 26 East 1st Street, Oswego, NY
Time: 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Watertown, New York (Jefferson County)
Date: June 13, 2019
Location: Jefferson Community College
Address: 1220 Coffeen Street, Jules Center, Room 6-002, Watertown, NY 13601
Time: 6:30-8:00 p.m.

About the nomination

In January 2017, the state of New York, the city of Oswego, and four counties (Oswego, Jefferson, Wayne, and Cayuga) submitted a nomination for the proposed Great Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary to be added to NOAA's inventory for potential designation. New York nominated the area to protect and increase awareness of a nationally significant collection of shipwrecks; to foster partnerships with education and research groups; and to increase opportunities for tourism and recreation as part of the regional Blue Economy.

About national marine sanctuaries

The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries serves as the trustee for a network of underwater parks encompassing more than 600,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters from Washington state to the Florida Keys, and from Lake Huron to American Samoa. The network includes a system of 13 national marine sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea and Rose Atoll marine national monuments.

national marine sanctuary system map