MPA advisory groups urge sustainable management of nation’s ocean recreation resources

The nation’s leading advisory bodies on marine protected areas are urging ocean managers to promote the recreational value of marine protected areas for travel and tourism while managing these places in a sustainable manner.

This is the first time that both the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee and NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Councils have collaboratively drafted and approved a joint statement regarding priority actions for ocean management.  In the resulting “Call to Action,” the advisory bodies assert that recreation along America’s coast and in the ocean and Great Lakes is growing rapidly, and that healthy, viable marine ecosystems are fundamental to successful ocean recreation and tourism.

staff providing on the water education on boats
Team OCEAN staff provide on-the-water education and information aimed at protecting sanctuary resources while enriching the experiences of visitors to Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. (Credit NOAA, FKNMS)

“Consequently, maintaining these qualities within marine protected areas through management of recreational uses will, in turn, ensure continued visitation and use along with the attendant benefits they generate to coastal communities,” according to the statement. “Most importantly, visitation to these places may help reshape how we, as a people, relate to our oceans.”

As identified in the National Travel and Tourism Strategy, the expansion of travel, tourism and recreation in the U.S. is a national priority, particularly among federal lands and waters. The “Call to Action” asks federal ocean agencies and their partners to work with local communities to invite people to play (responsibly) in marine protected areas (MPAs); embrace the human dimensions of MPAs; sustain MPA ecosystems and values; and engage recreational users as ocean stewards.

“We must ensure special places in our ocean are healthy and available for the public to enjoy - for this generation, as well as the next,” said Daniel J. Basta, Director, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “This call to action, from both the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee and the National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Councils, provides leadership to the nation on recreation and tourism goals.”

Efforts across the Sanctuary System are underway to implement these priorities. Upcoming campaigns will focus on promoting the experiences awaiting visitors to sanctuaries.  Meanwhile, sanctuaries staff are collaborating with partners in the sustainable tourism sector to support MPA managers’ ability to protect marine and coastal resources from the environmental impacts that more intense recreational use can sometimes cause.

To learn more about National Marine Sanctuary System, visit Additional information about the National MPA Center is available at

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For more information, contact:
Lauren Wenzel, Acting Director, National MPA Center, NOAA
Chiara Zuccarino-Crowe, Tourism and Recreation Coordinator