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Ocean Stewardship

Diver measuring sea urchin
Channel Islands National Park, California. NPS/N. Bilnick

The National Park System offers spectacular places to experience the beauty and value of America's great waters.

Keeping these places intact or restoring them when damaged is what we do. The National Park Service Organic Act requires us to conserve park resources and values unimpaired for the enjoyment of current and future generations. However, managers of coastal parks are confronting threats from pollution, watershed degradation, overfishing, invasive species, ocean warming, and sea level rise. We are working to protect wildlife, ecosystems, night skies, and natural quiet; increase scientific knowledge; preserve our nation's culture and history; and educate visitors in the face of these challenges.

Park managers work to provide sustainable opportunities for fishing, boating, swimming, diving, snorkeling, birdwatching, and other activities while conserving the special places that visitors enjoy. Many parks provide boat ramps. The National Park System has 23 marinas operated by concessioners with more than 7,000 boat slips and moorings and a rental fleet of more than 1,300 vessels. More than 180 parks have fishable waters, all of which offer access to a variety of freshwater and saltwater species for recreational fishing.

Nearly half of America's 313 million citizens live in coastal counties. With 86 million visits per year, pressures on coastal parks are greater than ever. Protecting the beauty and variety of the 85 ocean and Great Lakes parks requires an equally diverse approach to managing visitor uses. At Biscayne National Park near Miami, the National Park Service has proposed a new general management plan to do exactly that: manage and restore the park's tremendous marine resources while providing for a full range of visitor experiences.

Last Updated: January 03, 2017