National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Celebrates Advancement of Papahānaumokuākea National Marine Sanctuary Designation

Silver Spring, Md. – February 29, 2024 Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released draft designation documents proposing a national marine sanctuary in the marine portions of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Joel R. Johnson, president and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, released the following statement:

“Papahānaumokuākea is a crown jewel of our ocean recognized by UNESCO for its cultural and natural wonders. Uniquely meaningful and sacred to Native Hawaiian culture, it’s also incredibly rich in biodiversity. Even as a marine monument, Papahānaumokuākea’s ecosystem and its biodiversity are under threat from marine debris and a changing climate. That’s why it deserves the utmost protection our laws can provide.”

“National marine sanctuaries are our best tool to highly-protect places such as Papahānaumokuākea. Sanctuary status offers a durable layer of protection that goes beyond that of national monuments, thanks to the comprehensive sanctuary designation and inclusive management of Native Hawaiians. As a national marine sanctuary, we can be assured that Papahānaumokuākea will remain a place that inspires the world and is a lasting source of solutions against the climate change and biodiversity loss.

“We fully support the designation of Papahānaumokuākea as a national marine sanctuary to safeguard its wonders for the people and wildlife who depend on it, and we thank NOAA and the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries for committing to its protection.”


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