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Press Releases

Nov. 1, 2011


George Galasso
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary
360-457-6622 ext. 12

Sarah Marquis

NOAA releases plan for managing, protecting Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary

NOAA today released the final management plan and environmental assessment for the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary in Washington state. The document provides a framework for the sanctuary to refine its research, education and outreach programs, create and enhance partnerships, and manage potential threats to the sanctuary's marine resources.

The plan includes a new regulation prohibiting wastewater discharge from cruise ships within the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Updates to other regulatory language have been made to ensure clarity and consistency with the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.

"The management plan is the result of a collaborative effort that involved input from the public, the Sanctuary Advisory Council, and the Intergovernmental Policy Council," said George Galasso, acting sanctuary superintendent. "It includes detailed guidance for program priorities that we will use to manage this special undersea place for future generations to enjoy."

The Intergovernmental Policy Council consists of four coastal treaty tribes - the Hoh, Quileute and Makah tribes and Quinault Indian Nation - and Washington state. The management plan emphasizes the nature and significance of the sanctuary's treaty trust responsibility to the tribes.

Based on several years of scientific assessment and public input, the plan includes 20 directives, comprised of a series of non-regulatory actions, regulatory strategies, and activities. The plans address five priority goals:

  • manage the sanctuary in collaboration and coordination with the four coastal treaty tribes, the state, and stakeholders;
  • conduct collaborative research, assessments and monitoring to support ecosystem-based management;
  • improve ocean literacy;
  • conserve natural resources; and
  • understand the sanctuary's cultural, historical and socioeconomic significance.

The final management plan, regulations, and final environmental assessment can be read at

Periodic management plan review is required by Congress for each of NOAA's 13 national marine sanctuaries to ensure that they continue to conserve, protect, and enhance their nationally significant living and cultural resources, while allowing compatible commercial and recreational activities.

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, designated in 1994, spans 3,310 square miles of marine waters off the rugged Olympic Peninsula coastline. The sanctuary protects a productive upwelling zone that is home to rich marine mammal and seabird faunas, diverse populations of kelp and intertidal algae and thriving invertebrate communities. The sanctuary is also rich in cultural resources, with more than 150 documented historical shipwrecks and the vibrant contemporary cultures of Makah, Quinault, Hoh and Quileute nations.

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