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Press Releases

March 9, 2012


Karrie Carnes

Monterey County Native Wins Top Honor for
Management of Florida Keys Sanctuary

NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries has named Sean Morton as "Manager of the Year" for his dedicated leadership and visionary approach as superintendent of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Morton was selected from among managers across 14 sites in the national marine sanctuaries system for achievements in 2010 and 2011.

Morton has been the superintendent of NOAA's Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary since February 2009 and is responsible for the management, operations and policy implementation of the marine sanctuary that protects the world's third largest barrier reef.

Prior to the Florida Keys, Big Sur-native and Carmel High School graduate Morton worked for the Santa Barbara County Planning and Development Department as a planner, and at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary where he coordinated a review of the management plan and regulations for the largest sanctuary in the nation.

"Sean's diverse experience, from regulating oil and gas development in Santa Barbara to guiding the management plan review for Monterey Bay, have prepped him well for the demands of managing Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary", said William J. Douros, acting deputy director for NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. "His leadership skills are tested every day, and he has shown a tremendous capacity to listen to stakeholders, collaborate with partner agencies and motivate divergent interest groups to support sanctuary protection."

While at the helm of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Morton has developed interagency and public partnerships, improved the enforcement program, and overseen a website redesign. He also was recognized by the Department of Commerce for Superior Environmental Stewardship for implementing environmentally-friendly ideas and technologies at the Dr. Nancy Foster Florida Keys Environmental Complex in Key West, Fla.

Morton had also previously served as a program analyst in the Office of the Director for National Marine Sanctuaries in Silver Spring, Md., and as the deputy associate director for ocean and coastal policy at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in economics and environmental studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Master of Public Administration from American University in Washington, D.C.

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects 2,900 square nautical miles of critical marine habitat, including coral reef, hard bottom, sea grass meadow, mangrove communities and sand flats. NOAA and the state of Florida manage the sanctuary. Visit us at or on Facebook at

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