Sanctuary Nomination Process Guide

This guide is intended to help in preparing a nomination.


Thank you for your interest in nominating an area of the marine or Great Lakes waters to become a national marine sanctuary. More detailed information can be found in the final rule establishing this process. NOAA staff are also available to answer questions throughout the nomination development and review process.

Please be aware while preparing your nomination that all nominating materials submitted to NOAA will be posted publically on the website. Nominations should not include confidential business information or information that is sensitive or protected. NOAA will attempt to remove personal identifying information before a nomination is posted online, but please minimize including this type of information.

Document Guidelines

NOAA does not have a form for nominations, however the following guidelines apply:

  1. The nomination maximum length is 25 pages. Letters of support may be submitted as an appendix beyond the 25 page limit. No additional appendices will be accepted
  2. Nominations should use a Times New Roman font, 12 point font size, and one inch margins. Nominations that do not follow these formatting reasons will be returned.
  3. The nomination must not include any copyrighted information without the nominator first acquiring for or granting to the Government a copyright license for the information.

NOAA Review

building with noaa logo graphic

NOAA will review each nomination based on the information submitted in the nomination package. The nomination package must consist of one submission containing all the information the nominating community wants NOAA to consider. NOAA will not include any additional information once the nomination package is submitted. This will be a qualitative analysis so NOAA will not be applying a numerical score to any nomination. Nominations will not be judged against each other.

The strongest nominations will provide a clear connection and focus on the criteria and considerations that are relevant to the goals and intent for the nominated area and provide as much information as possible for those. While NOAA is not establishing a minimum number of national significance criteria, nor giving greater significance to any particular criterion, the strongest nominations will provide a clear connection and focus on the criteria most relevant to the goal and intent for the nominated area, and provide as much information as possible for those criteria. Nominations should provide information addressing all seven management considerations, with special emphasis on consideration #7, describing community-based support.

There are no deadlines for submissions. Nominations will be reviewed on a rolling basis as they are received by NOAA. Please note that a high volume of submission arriving at the same time may increase review timelines.

Nomination Submission

Nominations should be addressed to the Director of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and submitted by either:


Submit nomination packages to:


Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
1305 East-West Highway
11th Floor
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Nomination Preparation Checklist

Please make sure you have included the following four sections in your nomination package:

Section I - Basics

  • Nomination Title
  • Nominator Name(s) and Affiliation(s)
  • Nomination Point of Contact - Name, Phone, Email, Address

Section II - Introduction

  • Narrative Description – a brief overview of the nomination
  • Goals Description – a brief description of why you are nominating this area
  • Location Description – a brief overview of the area being nominated, please be as specific and descriptive as possible

Section III – Criteria Information

Provide detailed information on each of the criteria below that are relevant to your nomination.

Criteria 1

The area's natural resources and ecological qualities are of special significance and contribute to: biological productivity or diversity; maintenance or enhancement of ecosystem structure and function; maintenance of ecologically or commercially important species or species assemblages; maintenance or enhancement of critical habitat, representative biogeographic assemblages, or both; or maintenance or enhancement of connectivity to other ecologically significant resources.

Criteria 2

The area contains submerged maritime heritage resources of special historical, cultural, or archaeological significance, that: individually or collectively are consistent with the criteria of eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places; have met or which would meet the criteria for designation as a National Historic Landmark; or have special or sacred meaning to the indigenous people of the region or nation.

Criteria 3

The area supports present and potential economic uses, such as: tourism; commercial and recreational fishing; subsistence and traditional uses; diving; and other recreational uses that depend on conservation and management of the area's resources.

Criteria 4

The publically-derived benefits of the area, such as aesthetic value, public recreation, and access to places depend on conservation and management of the area's resources.

Section IV – Consideration Information

Provide as much detailed information as you are able on each of the seven consideration, with an emphasis on describing the community support (Consideration #7).

Consideration 1

The area provides or enhances opportunities for research in marine science, including marine archaeology.

Consideration 2

The area provides or enhances opportunities for education, including the understanding and appreciation of the marine and Great Lakes environments.

Consideration 3

Adverse impacts from current or future uses and activities threaten the area's significance, values, qualities, and resources.

Consideration 4

A national marine sanctuary would provide unique conservation and management value for this area or adjacent areas.

Consideration 5

The existing regulatory and management authorities for the area could be supplemented or complemented to meet the conservation and management goals for the area.

Consideration 6

There are commitments or possible commitments for partnerships opportunities such as cost sharing, office space, exhibit space, vessel time, or other collaborations to aid conservation or management programs for the area.

Consideration 7

There is community-based support for the nomination expressed by a broad range of interests, such as: individuals or locally-based groups (e.g., friends of group, chamber of commerce); local, tribal, state, or national elected officials; or topic-based stakeholder groups, at the local, regional or national level (e.g., a local chapter of an environmental organization, a regionally-based fishing group, a national-level recreation or tourism organization, academia or science-based group, or an industry association).


For general questions regarding the sanctuary nomination process, please contact:

Matt Brookhart
Chief, Policy & Planning Division
NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
1305 East-West Highway
11th floor
Silver Spring, MD 20910

For specific interest in nominating areas:

Maine to North Carolina, or the Great Lakes

Reed Bohne
Northeast and Great Lakes Regional Director
NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
10 Ocean Science Circle
Savannah, GA 31411

South Carolina to Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, or the Caribbean

Reed Bohne
Northeast and Great Lakes Regional Director
NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
10 Ocean Science Circle
Savannah, GA 31411

California to Alaska

William Douros
West Coast Regional Director
NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries,
99 Pacific Street
Suite 100F
Monterey, CA 93940

Pacific Islands

Allen Tom
Pacific Islands Regional Director
NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
726 South Kihei Road
Kihei (Maui), HI 96753

Paperwork Reduction Act Statement

Submittal of the information requested in these procedures is required for NOAA to consider a site for possible designation as a national marine sanctuary. This information is essential to evaluate the national significance of the area, management considerations of the area as a sanctuary, potential benefits of designation, and evaluate any environmental and socioeconomic impacts.

Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act, unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB Control Number.