WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), a member of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, introduced a Senate Resolution recognizing and celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972. The legislation has long protected our nation’s maritime heritage by providing for the establishment of national marine sanctuaries across the United States. This Senate Resolution acknowledges the importance of national marine sanctuaries in conserving marine ecosystems, protecting biodiversity, and supporting community resilience.

“For decades, the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act has helped preserve our natural waters while providing new opportunities for research, recreation and tourism across the country,” said Senator Baldwin. “Last year, I was proud to help establish the first national marine sanctuary in Wisconsin to preserve our Great Lakes and drive tourism, research and preservation efforts for communities along Lake Michigan. With this resolution, we are continuing our commitment to the strong Wisconsin tradition of preserving our natural resources for generations to come.” 

Senator Baldwin successfully led the charge to bring a national marine sanctuary to Wisconsin. In October 2013, Senator Baldwin urged NOAA to re-open the public nomination process for marine sanctuaries for the first time in 20 years. After the Administration announced in June 2014 that Americans would be given the opportunity to nominate nationally significant marine and Great Lakes areas as national marine sanctuaries, Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan proposal was submitted and Senator Baldwin called on NOAA to support their efforts. The Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary was officially designated in 2021.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Baldwin has continued to advocate for Wisconsin’s Great Lakes by supporting robust funding for the National Marine Sanctuaries Program and by requesting federal funding for the Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.

Full text of the Senate Resolution is available here and below:

Recognizing the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972, which provided for the establishment of national marine sanctuaries.

Whereas, on October 23, 1972, the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (33 U.S.C. 1401 et seq.) became law and ushered in a new era of ocean conservation;

Whereas, as of October 2022, the National Marine Sanctuary System is a nationwide network that conserves spectacular oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes waters;

Whereas communities across the United States can nominate their most treasured places in marine and Great Lakes waters for consideration as national marine sanctuaries;

Whereas national marine sanctuaries protect biodiversity, safeguard extraordinary seascapes, historic shipwrecks, and sacred cultural places, and provide abundant recreational opportunities;

Whereas national marine sanctuaries provide opportunities for community-Tribal partnerships to preserve the traditional ecological resources and cultural sites of local Indigenous peoples;

Whereas the conservation of marine ecosystems is vital for healthy oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes, addressing climate change, and sustaining productive coastal economies;

Whereas national marine sanctuaries support coastal communities and generate billions of dollars annually in local economies by providing jobs in the United States, supporting commercial, Tribal, and recreational fisheries, bolstering tourism and recreation, engaging businesses in stewardship, and driving the growth of the blue economy;

Whereas national marine sanctuaries connect people and communities through science, education, recreation, and stewardship, inspiring community-based solutions that help individuals understand and protect the most spectacular underwater habitats, wildlife, archaeological resources, and cultural seascapes of the United States;

Whereas national marine sanctuaries are living laboratories to conduct cooperative science and research to improve resource management and advance innovative public-private partnerships;

Whereas national marine sanctuaries can help make the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes more resilient by protecting ecosystems that sequester carbon, safeguarding coastal communities from flooding and storms, and protecting biodiversity;

Whereas the United States is a maritime nation, and the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes are central to the way of life of the people of the United States; and

Whereas engaging communities as stewards of the waters protected as natural marine sanctuaries makes natural marine sanctuaries unique and provides a comprehensive, highly participatory approach to conserving marine eco-systems and the Great Lakes for current and future generations: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) recognizes and celebrates the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972;

(2) acknowledges the importance of national marine sanctuaries to supporting community resilience, protecting biodiversity, and increasing access to nature;

(3) celebrates the ability of the National Marine Sanctuary System to protect nationally significant places in the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes;

(4) calls on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to partner with communities and find consensus on designations of new national marine sanctuaries; and

(5) encourages Federal agencies to balance priorities and work together to support the priorities of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972.

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