Protection & Management
2014 National Marine Sanctuaries Annual Report

map of thunder bay expansion
Credit: NOAA/Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Sanctuary Expands Ten-Fold

On September 5, 2014, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (TBNMS) expanded its boundaries from 448 square miles to 4,300 square miles to protect nearly 100 historic shipwrecks in the waters of northern Lake Huron. The expansion was based on several years of research by NOAA and its many scientific partners and driven by strong public support. Increased tourism and related business development have contributed to the sanctuary becoming an integral part of the regional economy. The sanctuary continues to encourage sustainable tourism and foster greater awareness of the Great Lakes and its rich maritime history through research, education and outreach.

photo of a cruise ship
Credit: John Barimo/OCNMS

Preventing Oil Spills

The risk of a large oil spill is a major concern for Washington’s coast. OCNMS worked with the United States Coast Guard to establish an Area to be Avoided (ATBA) to reduce this risk. The ATBA is a voluntary measure that directs large vessels to stay offshore the rugged Olympic Coast’s sensitive and dangerous environment. In 2014, the estimated compliance rate was 97 percent for vessels greater than 400 gross tons with compliance higher for large commercial vessels. The sanctuary has monitored compliance and conducted outreach to mariners since 1998.