Recently, I celebrated my first anniversary at the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Over the past year, I visited sanctuaries from Thunder Bay in Michigan to the Florida Keys to the Olympic Coast in Washington. As I reflect this Thanksgiving on all of the phenomenal people who I met that dedicate their time and energy to protecting our ocean for future generations, I’d like to share with you some of things that I am grateful for this year:
45 Years of the National Marine Sanctuary System. Starting with the passing of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act in 1972, and thirteen sanctuaries and two monuments later, we are excited by the progress we’ve made and the opportunities to come.
Students and educators who take action in the classroom to protect our marine sanctuaries. Protecting our ocean and Great Lakes starts with education, and I am truly thankful for the teachers and students who took the time to participate in projects, fundraisers, and field trips to raise awareness about our national marine sanctuaries and inspire the next generation of ocean guardians.
Two new national marine sanctuary designations on the horizon. We continue to work with a diverse group of partners to build public awareness and support for the creation of new sanctuaries, including Mallows Bay-Potomac River in Maryland and a second Great Lakes sanctuary, Wisconsin-Lake Michigan. New sanctuary designations begin locally, initiated by caring and engaged communities. We are proud to be part of a process that takes into account such diverse voices, and thankful for the opportunity to expand and help conserve these treasured places.
Volunteers and staff who work tirelessly on behalf of sanctuaries and the animals that call them home. They provide thousands of hours of support, and their passion is incredibly inspiring. I’m thankful for the impact they make both on the health of our sanctuaries and the communities they support.
Our community of advocates who wrote, called, and emailed their support for national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments when it mattered most. We still have so much work to do, and we must continue to speak up for their protection. Thank you for sharing your personal stories about why these shared spaces are important to you.
Lastly, I am grateful for you and our growing community of supporters and friends. We are fortunate to have a large network of partners – local and national, private and public, individuals and corporations and charitable foundations – who are devoted to our shared goals and integral to our mission of strengthening sanctuaries. Together, we are able to accomplish so much, and I look forward to the good work we will continue to do.
I hope you and yours enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving, and a peaceful holiday season.
Kristen J. Sarri
President and CEO, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation