Healthy sanctuaries support healthy fisheries, communities, and economies.

For centuries, communities used marine protected areas to conserve both ecosystems and fisheries production. Marine protected areas provide a safe haven where fish can grow, reproduce and spill over to surrounding areas; help rebuild fish stocks; maintain ecosystem health and diversity; and support livelihoods and communities.

National marine sanctuaries are a type of marine protected area that focus on protecting and conserving marine and Great Lakes wildlife, habitats, and ecosystems while balancing sustainable activities, such as commercial and recreational fishing, for future generations. While every sanctuary allows multiple uses, each sanctuary is different based on the resources and its community.  And the community is an integral part of the sanctuary. Sanctuary Advisory Councils are community-based advisory bodies representing the different stakeholders that provide feedback and recommendations to the sanctuary managers on issues including management, science, and stewardship. Every council has a seat to represent fishing interests.


Supporting Science for Sustainable Fisheries

Sanctuaries encompass some of the most productive fishing grounds in America’s waters. They are ideal areas for critical science and monitoring to increase our understanding of the marine and Great Lakes environments. Likewise, research in sanctuaries can provide valuable information on impacts of activities, recovery and resilience of stocks to changing ocean conditions, and opportunities for collaborative research with fishermen, the fishing industry, and other partners. The National Marine Sanctuary System supports tagging and tracking research on commercially and recreationally important fish species, studying areas of importance during critical life stages such as spawning aggregations, nurseries, and habitats, investing in long-term monitoring, and incorporating traditional knowledge and traditions in management and conservation.


Building a Legacy of Stewardship and Conservation for the Future

These productive fishing grounds support millions of jobs, contribute billions of dollars to the national economy each year, and offer recreation and escape to millions of anglers. And to ensure that we can continue to enjoy the benefits of healthy and productive marine and Great Lakes environments, sanctuaries partners with commercial and recreational fishermen, businesses, charters, and education partners to be part of the solution. The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation promotes sustainable fishing practices, fishing culture and history in sanctuaries; developing tools for fishermen; connects families and youth to our ocean, coasts and Great Lakes through the sport of recreational saltwater fishing; and fosters a sense of stewardship and responsibility for America’s great outdoors.