Our Response to The America First Offshore Energy Executive Order


Contact: Marcus Reamer, marcus@marinesanctuary.org, (301) 608-3040 x 311

Silver Spring, MD; April 28, 2017 – Today President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order regarding offshore energy development that includes provisions directing the Department of Commerce to review all national marine sanctuary designations and expansions and marine national monument designations and expansions under the Antiquities Act dating back to 2007. It also directs the Secretary of Commerce not to expand or designate national marine sanctuaries unless there is a full accounting by the Department of the Interior of the energy and mineral potential within the area and the impacts on development of those resources. The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation strongly supports the expansion and designation of marine sanctuaries and opposes the withdrawal of protections for existing sites.

America’s national marine sanctuaries conserve treasured places within our ocean and Great Lakes such as the USS Monitor shipwreck, Midway Island, sacred heritage sites for Native Americans, and some of the largest and oldest corals in the world. Contained within these boundaries are more than 300 discovered shipwrecks that document our past as a seafaring nation. These sites are home to millions of species, including endangered and threatened species such as the Hawaiian Monk Seal, Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle, and the Southern Resident Killer Whale where sanctuaries play a critical role in their recovery.  These living laboratories encourage our children to care for the environment and offer science learning opportunities outside the classroom.

Over 42 million people visit sanctuaries each year and generate approximately $8 billion annually to support coastal and ocean-dependent economies. From restaurants and hotels, to aquariums and kayak operators, the success of many businesses, millions of dollars in sales, and thousands of jobs, directly depend on thriving national marine sanctuaries.

Balancing multiple uses on the water and engaging citizens from all walks of life, sanctuaries provide a comprehensive, highly participatory approach to managing and conserving resources.  Public participation is a hallmark of sanctuaries and underscores their dedication to civic engagement and leadership. From nomination to day-to-day management, communities are at the core of national marine sanctuaries. The American people see the benefits that sanctuaries provide to local communities and our nation, and they are voicing their support. Communities are coming together to conserve our ocean, coasts and Great Lakes with new nominations and designations for sanctuaries for the first time in 16 years as well as expansions of existing national marine sanctuaries.

Every year, thousands of volunteers devote their time and effort to protect sanctuaries for future generations. They represent the best of America and what starts as one passionate citizen becomes an empowered community. In 2016, sanctuary volunteers contributed over 137,000 hours across the system, contributing more than $3.23 million in valuable support. In 2016, almost 9,000 volunteers supported citizen science efforts in national marine sanctuaries, helping to answer real-world scientific questions.

America’s national marine sanctuaries — our Nation’s blue parks — play a vital role in preserving our history, protecting cultural resources, and conserving natural resources for current and future generations.  The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation urges the Administration to recognize the importance of sanctuaries to all Americans and sectors of the economy. Let the Administration know you support our National Marine Sanctuary System by signing on to our letter to Secretary Ross and Secretary Zinke.