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NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuary

The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) is responsible for identifying, designating and managing ocean and Great Lake areas of special national significance as national marine sanctuaries. Sanctuaries are managed to protect and conserve their resources and to allow uses that are compatible with resource protection.

ONMS serves as the trustee for a network of underwater parks encompassing more that 170,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters from Washington State to the Florida Keys, and from Lake Huron to American Samoa. The network includes a system of 13 national marine sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea and Rose Atoll marine national monuments.

Authorizing legislation, regulations, management plans and permitting are some of the mechanisms used to assist in the management of sanctuaries. To learn more about the management of the sanctuary program, visit Management 101.

Proposed Boundary Expansion

After several years of scientific and archaeological assessment and in coordination with the public, NOAA is proposing to expand Monitor National Marine Sanctuary off North Carolina's Outer Banks to include additional maritime heritage resources. The proposed expansion would protect a nationally significant collection of shipwrecks that currently have little or no legal protection, including one of America's only World War II battlefields.

Visit the Expansion page to learn more about the process, to view proposed map models and to learn how to make a public comment.

Click here to view the press release. Click here to view the Federal Register Notice.

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