Center for American Progress

RELEASE: U.S. Must Invest in National Marine Sanctuaries Program to Protect 30 Percent of the Ocean
Press Release

RELEASE: U.S. Must Invest in National Marine Sanctuaries Program to Protect 30 Percent of the Ocean

Washington, D.C. — As the National Marine Sanctuaries Act prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, a new report from the Center for American Progress and the National Ocean Protection Coalition finds that many of the nation’s ocean and Great Lakes sanctuaries are experiencing worsening conditions, with limited authority to take action and insufficient funds to control damaging activities.

In the 14 sanctuaries that CAP analyzed, 37 percent of conditions were classified as “fair,” “fair/poor,” or “poor.” This means that pressure on the sanctuaries is causing measurable, widespread, persistent, and/or severe impacts.

CAP’s analysis also found that throughout the sanctuary system, 41 percent of conditions are getting worse, meaning that the protection offered by sanctuaries may not be sufficient to safeguard the resources and habitats for which they were designated.

The Biden administration has stated that sanctuaries can help achieve its goal of protecting 30 percent of the nation’s ocean by 2030, but more investment is needed. Sanctuaries are severely underfunded, with the entire sanctuary system receiving just $55 million annually, or $0.14 per acre. In contrast, peer programs such as the National Park System receive 200 times the amount of funding.

“Given the movement to protect nature and the growing threats facing coastal communities and ocean life, the sanctuary system should have the authority and resources that it needs to protect special ocean places,” said Miriam Goldstein, managing director for Energy and Environment and director of Ocean Policy at CAP.

The report highlights opportunities for Congress and the Biden administration to strengthen the sanctuary system and protect ocean resources for the benefit of all.

The sanctuary program is a powerful tool to advance locally led conservation at a national scale,” said Amy Kenney, executive director for the National Ocean Protection Coalition. “To achieve the vision of communities and produce benefits to people and nature, the sanctuary system needs additional funding and expanded authority.”

Read the report: “To Protect 30 Percent of the Ocean, the United States Must Invest in the National Marine Sanctuaries Program” by Zainab Mirza, Alexandra Carter, Amy Kenney, and Miriam Goldstein

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at shananel@americanprogress.org.