National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Applauds New Proposed Sanctuary Designation in Lake Erie

Silver Spring, Md. – May 18, 2023 – The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation applauds the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for initiating the designation process for a new national marine sanctuary in Lake Erie.

The Pennsylvania waters of Lake Erie were one of the mid-19th century’s busiest waterways, supporting goods and resources flowing in and out of the interior of North America, a large commercial fishing fleet, and some of the earliest shipbuilding on the Great Lakes. The proposed Lake Erie Quadrangle National Marine Sanctuary would encompass the 759 square miles of Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie waters, where 196 vessels are reported to have been lost.

Shannon Colbert, Vice President of External Affairs of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, said, “The waters of Lake Erie’s Eastern Basin span more than 200 years of our nation’s history, and deserve recognition as a national treasure. A sanctuary here would foster new opportunities for exploration, education, research, and tourism that benefit the state’s coastal communities and bring increased attention to the Great Lakes’ role in the growth of our nation.”

If designated, Lake Erie would join America’s national marine sanctuaries as the essential network of protected waters, which sustain miraculous species, coastal communities, and our shared heritage. The National Marine Sanctuary System includes 15 national marine sanctuaries and two marine national monuments. These unique waters sustain critical, breathtaking marine habitats that provide homes to endangered and threatened species. They preserve America’s rich maritime heritage and are living laboratories for science, research, education and conservation. Sanctuaries also offer world-class outdoor recreation experiences for all ages and support local communities. Communities across the nation look to sanctuaries to protect nationally significant areas of our ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes.

A Lake Erie Quadrangle National Marine Sanctuary designation would preserve and raise national awareness and appreciation of historically-significant maritime heritage and cultural resources, including shipwrecks; foster partnerships with researchers and educators to discover additional wonders beneath the waves; and create business and job opportunities from tourism and outdoor recreation.


The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, established in 2000, is the official non-profit partner of the National Marine Sanctuary System. The Foundation directly supports America’s national marine sanctuaries through our mission to protect species, conserve ecosystems and preserve cultural and maritime heritage. We accomplish our mission through community stewardship and engagement programs, on-the-water conservation projects, public education and outreach programs, and scientific research and exploration. The Foundation fosters innovative projects that are solution-oriented, scalable and transferable, and develop strategic partnerships that promote the conservation and recovery of species and their habitats. Learn more at 


Contact: Chip Weiskotten 

Director of Strategic Communications