Marine Sanctuaries Program Offers Environmental Protection and Benefits Other Laws Do Not

CED-81-37: Published: Mar 4, 1981. Publicly Released: Mar 4, 1981.

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Title III of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act established the Marine Sanctuaries Program, which preserves or restores ocean areas for their conservation, recreational, ecological, or esthetic values. A review was performed to determine whether the program is providing marine environmental protection over and above that which is provided under other federal statutory authorities.

Although the program overlaps with other federal laws that protect the marine environment, it complements their authority by offering benefits other laws do not. The program provides comprehensive regulation, planning, and management to ensure long-term preservation of all the resources that require protection. It also provides environmental protection where gaps exist in the coverage provided by other federal regulatory authorities. The program also encourages and supports the research and assessment of the condition of sanctuary resources and promotes public appreciation of their value. GAO believes that title III is an appropriate way to accomplish the basic objectives Congress envisioned in establishing an effective marine sanctuaries program.

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