In April 2019, NOAA proposed the designation of a national marine sanctuary in eastern Lake Ontario to protect historically significant shipwrecks and maritime heritage resources. Following the end of the three-month public comment period, NOAA is now conducting a detailed analysis to develop sanctuary alternatives and a management plan for the proposed national marine sanctuary. NOAA recently established a sanctuary advisory council to help inform the designation process and focus stakeholder participation and is seeking applicants to fill those seats.
The area being considered for designation as a national marine sanctuary is a region in eastern Lake Ontario that includes approximately 1,700 square miles of lake waters and bottomlands adjacent to Jefferson, Wayne, Oswego, and Cayuga counties in the State of New York. The area contains 21 known shipwrecks and one military aircraft representing events spanning more than 200 years of our nation's history. Based on historical records, an additional 47 shipwrecks and two aircraft are also likely located there.
The area being considered for designation 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.
NOAA established a Sanctuary Advisory Council for the Proposed Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary.The sanctuary advisory council will provide advice to NOAA during the sanctuary designation process.To learn more about upcoming meetings or how to get involved, please visit the Proposed Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council website.
For more information on national marine sanctuary advisory councils please visit the National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council website.
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 14 national marine sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea and Rose Atoll marine national monuments.