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A Message from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation

kris sarri on the beach

Legendary producer Ken Burns called the national parks "America's Best Idea" because they are the story of people, Americans from all walks of life devoted to protecting lands they love. The same is true for our national marine sanctuaries, which are a uniquely American idea. They are the story of people and communities dedicated to conserving special places in our ocean and Great Lakes for both current and future generations. Sanctuaries capture the spirit of communities through participatory conservation. Thousands of volunteers enthusiastically donate their time to aid in conservation, scientists study these living laboratories to unlock mysteries, and local citizens serve on advisory councils that inform the management of our public waters for all Americans.

Six months ago, I got a dream job: president and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. I am following in the wake of giants who had the vision to establish the Foundation 17 years ago. For me, honoring their vision means being part of the community dedicated to strengthening the system of national marine sanctuaries, the goal of which is to conserve our rich natural, cultural, and historic resources for future generations.

We are explorers. Americans are explorers and the ocean is the last frontier on Earth. From research to recreational diving, there is always something new to learn or awe-inspiring to discover in our ocean and Great Lakes. Sanctuaries are our living laboratories to better understand the world we live in and satisfy our appetite for adventure.

We are stewards. Sanctuaries are homes to millions of species, and play a critical role in the recovery of many endangered and threatened species. They generate approximately $8 billion annually to support coastal- and ocean-dependent economies. We are all stewards of our ocean and Great Lakes for both the species that depend on them and future generations of Americans. Sanctuaries give us all the opportunity to work collectively to conserve these resources for all Americans to enjoy.

We are connected. The health of our ocean and Great Lakes, the quality of life of our communities, and human health go hand in hand. As we go about our busy lives, it is easy to forget that life on Earth is made possible by the water. Sanctuaries help us realize our connection to the water by connecting communities to our marine and freshwater environments.

Connecting Americans to their national marine sanctuaries, igniting curiosity through science and exploration of these living laboratories, building partnerships with local communities to conserve these unique places, and engaging a more diverse population in these efforts are my vision for the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.

For the first time in 16 years, we are on the verge of designating two new sanctuaries to preserve important pieces of our nation’s maritime heritage. And, many other communities across the country are urging us forward to conserve areas of national significance along their coasts. With communities involved in conservation, I believe there is optimism for our ocean and Great Lakes.

Kris Sarri, President & CEO
National Marine Sanctuary Foundation

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