Want to get involved?
Consider being a member of the advisory council for the Proposed Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary

By Ellie Roberts

September 2019

In April 2019, NOAA began the designation process for a proposed national marine sanctuary in Lake Ontario. Following a public comment period, we have decided to establish a sanctuary advisory council to serve as a liaison to the local community and assist in guiding the site through the designation process. Applications for the council will be accepted through November 1, 2019.

map of proposed lake ontario sanctuary
The proposed Lake Ontario sanctuary could protect 21 known shipwrecks and many others that have yet to be found. Map: NOAA

Protecting maritime heritage

The area of Lake Ontario being considered for designation, adjacent to Jefferson, Wayne, Oswego, and Cayuga counties in the state of New York, could protect 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 may be located within proposed sanctuary boundaries.

The area being considered for designation also includes a separate area surrounding the HMS Ontario, which is both the oldest confirmed shipwreck and the only fully intact British warship discovered in the Great Lakes.

In addition to protecting maritime heritage resources, sanctuary designation would also support the development of educational programs focused on Great Lakes maritime heritage, promote recreational use, and bolster research to further identify, document, and interpret the area’s maritime heritage resources, including cultural, historical, and archaeological resources of Native American tribes.

Bringing diverse interests together

When Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary was designated in 1990, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries was required by Congress to establish an advisory council for that site. The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council was established in 1992, setting the tone for the rest of the National Marine Sanctuary System. Today, all sites within the National Marine Sanctuary System have an advisory council to foster a stewardship ethic within the community and facilitate communication with stakeholders.

Community involvement is vitally important to the successful designation and management of a national marine sanctuary. By bringing diverse community interests together, a council will draw on the expertise of each member to provide advice to NOAA on management, science, service, and stewardship. Council members also serve as a direct link to community members, stakeholders, and constituents, and play an important role in building meaningful partnerships that may benefit the proposed sanctuary.

sanctuary advisory council members sitting at tables
Sanctuary advisory councils facilitate communication and foster relationships with local communities. Photo: NOAA

Seeking applicants from the Lake Ontario community

NOAA is seeking to fill 15 seats on the Proposed Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council. Council seats will represent a variety of interests, from recreation and tourism to education and outreach. We are currently seeking applicants to represent:

  • Divers/dive clubs/shipwreck exploration (2 seats)
  • Education (2 seats)
  • Tourism (1 seat)
  • Economic development (2 seats)
  • Recreational fishing (2 seats)
  • Recreational boating (1 seat)
  • Shoreline property owner (1 seat)
  • Maritime history and interpretation (2 seats)
  • Citizen-at-large (2 seats)

We aim to create a council that is balanced in point of view, experience, and geographic diversity. Candidates will be selected based on their expertise relating to the seat they apply for, their community and professional affiliations, and their interests regarding the protection and management of maritime heritage resources.

Council representatives will meet several times each year in half to full-day sessions at various locations. Council meetings will be open to the public and provide a place where community interests, support, and concerns are heard.

If you are interested in applying for a seat on the Proposed Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council, please visit http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/lake-ontario/advisory.html. Applications will be accepted through November 1, 2019.

Before applying, please review the following documents:
Proposed Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council charter (Accessible version)
Sanctuary Advisory Council seat descriptions
Application cover letter (Accessible version)

Application materials may be downloaded below:
Application form

Applications will be accepted through November 1, 2019. Submit applications by mail or fax to:
Ellen Brody
Great Lakes Regional Coordinator
NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
4840 South State Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Fax: 734-741-2055

Ellie Roberts is the national external affairs coordinator for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.