National Marine Sanctuaries
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#8 2011
Making the World Take Notice:
Inscribing the U.S.'s First World Heritage Site in a Generation

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2010. This action resulted from several years of intense efforts by State and Federal agencies, and non-government entities, led by the sanctuary system. Upon inscription, Papahānaumokuākea was one of only 28 mixed natural and cultural sites (and the first in the U.S.), the first marine site in the U.S., and the first site co-managed by NOAA. Although one of the newest marine sites, Papahānaumokuākea hosted the first gathering of marine World Heritage managers in 2010 as a first step in forging an international community united in protecting the 45 marine sites.

The inscription joined a host of other international designations enjoyed by the sites in the sanctuary system. Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary is currently on the U.S.'s Tentative List for future World Heritage consideration. Tomales Bay and Bolinas Lagoon in Gulf of the Farallones NMS are recognized as Ramsar Convention wetland sites and Channel Islands, Gulf of the Farallones, and Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuaries enjoy Man and the Biosphere recognition. Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is also formally listed under the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW Protocol) of the Cartegena Convention.

The UNESCO World Heritage Program encourages the identification, protection, and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. The U.S. was instrumental in its creation and the first nation to sign the Convention in 1972. Today 21 areas in the U.S. have earned this prestigious honor among the nearly 1000 around the world. Find the closest World Heritage site to where you live.

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More about Monument's World Heritage inscription