Our ocean and its creatures have never been more in need of our help.
Threats like pollution, marine debris, habitat destruction and climate change are endangering
some of our most precious ocean treasures. Entire ecosystems are in peril
Coral reefs are ailing worldwide, once-productive fisheries are suffering severe declines,
and endangered whales face ever-present hazards from marine debris entanglement
and vessel strikes. Discarded cigarette lighters and other pieces of plastic
trash make their way across thousands of miles of ocean, ending up in the stomachs
of albatross chicks in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
Today, perhaps as never before, our National Marine Sanctuary System is part of a larger
means to address the fundamental problems confronting the nation. National marine
sanctuaries offer more than just the protection of special marine areas; these special
places provide opportunities to address many of the critical problems of our time, such
as climate change and adaptation, sustainable economies, and national security. Our
system of marine sanctuaries helps builds communities, encouraging Americans to
find common ground and reach collective solutions of nationwide significance.
This report looks back on the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries' accomplishments
over the past year. While 2008 was a busy and productive year for the sanctuaries,
2009 brings with it a host of new challenges and opportunities. This report begins our
dialogue with you: our exploration of how we can move forward together, making solutions
part of our daily lives. The men and women of the national marine sanctuaries
work tirelessly to make the sanctuary system a leader in preserving our ocean resources,
as well as a leader in addressing the challenges threatening our quality of life.