Proposed national marine sanctuaries offer path to indigenous-led ocean conservation


WASHINGTON, D.C.—The United States can move closer to its goal of supporting locally led and locally designed conservation efforts and honoring Tribal sovereignty and supporting the priorities of Tribal Nations by approving five new Indigenous-led marine sanctuaries, according to a new report co-authored by Angelo Villagomez from the Center for American Progress.

The report focuses on five sites with various levels of Indigenous leadership and engagement that have already been placed into consideration for possible designation as national marine sanctuaries. These areas have the potential to advance not only the Biden administration’s America the Beautiful initiative but also the environmental justice priorities underscored in the Inflation Reduction Act. They would be some of the first national marine sanctuaries to be led and potentially co-managed by Indigenous communities and governments.

These sites include:

• Alaĝum Kanuux̂ National Marine Sanctuary

• Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary

• Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument Sanctuary

• Mariana Trench National Marine Sanctuary

• Hudson Canyon National Marine Sanctuary

The report also urges the Biden administration to take the following steps to center Indigenous voices in the designation for new national marine sanctuaries:

• Begin, advance, and complete designation for all five proposed sanctuaries in consultation with local communities.

• Engage with Indigenous communities and explore co-management opportunities.

• Ensure commercial, recreational, and traditional fishing continue to be regulated under state and federal law.

• Provide adequate funds to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

• Establish a pre-designation advisory council that would eventually form the official sanctuary advisory council after designation.

• Establish protocols for Indigenous naming practices. (PR)

Press Release
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