NOAA 2000-076
Contact: Matt Stout


The National Marine Sanctuaries Amendments Act of 2000, which reauthorizes the National Marine Sanctuaries Act for five years, was signed into law by President Clinton yesterday.

"This nation prides itself on its conservation ethic, as embodied in our national parks and refuges, " President Clinton said. "The 13 marine sanctuaries extend this ethic into the sea, ensuring a healthy ocean environment for future generations of swimmers and surfers, fishermen and explorers, teachers and students."

"Our National Marine Sanctuaries have spent the last 25 years doing incredible work with limited resources," said Commerce Secretary Norman Y. Mineta. " This bill provides the means for increasing the resources available to the program, especially to aid in the construction of visitor's centers to bring the beauty and power of the ocean to a wide audience. I am pleased that the President and Congress have reaffirmed that our marine sanctuaries are the jewels in the crown of American protected ocean

Acknowledging the secretary's comments, Mr. Clinton added, "Today, we extend this program into the future, and with it, the nation's commitment to an ocean ethic for the 21st century."

The act provides authority for the establishment of a unique network of marine protected areas dedicated to the conservation of special areas of the marine environment for the enjoyment of present and future generations.

The act, administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Ocean Service, relies on the involvement of local citizens to find the best possible solutions to the tough challenges communities face in protecting the ocean environment. The Ocean Service's National Marine Sanctuary Program currently comprises 13 sanctuaries around the country, including sites in American Samoa and Hawaii. In the quarter century since its inception, the sanctuaries act has provided a powerful tool for marine resource protection resulting in the permanent conservation of many invaluable habitats and maritime artifacts. Drawing upon this experience, this bill refines the act in substantive ways that reflect the growth and evolution of the program.

In approving this measure, President Clinton drew special attention to the establishment of the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program. These scholarships will support graduate students in oceanography, marine biology, or maritime archaeology, particularly for women and members of minority groups.

"I am especially pleased that this act creates the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program," the President said. It is a fitting tribute to Dr. Foster to encourage scholarship, particularly by women and minorities, in the fields of oceanography, marine biology and maritime archeology."

Former Assistant Administrator for NOAA's National Ocean Service, Dr. Foster raised the organization to a level of quality and strength unequaled in its history. As Deputy Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries, she led the reorganization of the National Marine Fisheries Service and created a more efficient, responsive, and scientifically sound organization.

Much of the success of the National Marine Sanctuary Program, a treasure to the American people, is attributable to Dr. Foster's tenure as chief in its early years, and through her support and advocacy throughout her career. In Dr. Foster's 23 years with NOAA, she demonstrated a remarkable loyalty and determination to the NOAA mission, and to its people.