Beach Access and Park Issues
January 13, 2010

Cape Hatteras National Seashore is being
considered as a marine protected area

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Protected Areas Center, in cooperation with the Department of the Interior (DOI), has created a first-ever inventory of the nation’s marine protected areas. 

This unique, comprehensive inventory catalogs and classifies marine protected areas within U.S. waters. 

Thirty-two sites, including 21 units of the National Park system and several national wildlife refuges, have been nominated to join the national system of marine protected areas (MPAs). 

Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National seashores are among the national seashores listed in the Federal Register last week.

Developed in response to Executive Order 13158 on Marine Protected Areas, the final framework for the national system was published on Nov. 19, 2008. 

The Federal Register listing says, in part:

The national system of MPAs includes member MPA sites, networks and systems established and managed by federal, state, tribal and/or local governments that collectively enhance conservation of the nation’s natural and cultural marine heritage and represent its diverse ecosystems and resources.

Although participating sites continue to be managed independently, national system MPAs also work together at the regional and national levels to achieve common objectives for conserving the nation’s important natural and cultural resources.

Benefits of joining the national system of MPAs, which are expected to increase over time as the system matures, include a facilitated means to work with other MPAs in the region, and nationally on issues of common conservation concern; fostering greater public and international recognition of MPAs, MPA programs, and the resources they protect; priority in the receipt of available technical support, MPA partnership grants with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, cooperative project participation, and other support for cost-cutting needs; and the opportunity to influence federal and regional ocean conservation and management initiatives (such as integrated ocean observing systems, systematic monitoring and evaluation, targeted outreach to key user groups, and helping to identify and address MPA research needs).

Joining the national system does not restrict or require changes affecting the designation process for new MPAs or management of existing MPAs. It does not bring state, territorial or local sites under federal authority. It does not establish new regulatory authority or interfere with the exercise of existing agency authorities.

The national system is a mechanism to foster greater collaboration among participating MPA sites and programs to enhance stewardship

Comments on the nominations to the national system are due by Feb. 22.  For more information, check NOAA website at: or submit comments to: [email protected] .

Click here for Federal Register nominations of Marine Protected Areas

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