NOAA celebrates 50 years of landmark coastal, ocean legislation

People walking on a beach with rocks coming out of the water.

Beachgoers enjoy a lovely day hiking along Washington’s Rialto Beach, adjacent to Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. (Image credit: Karlyn Langjahr/NOAA)

Do you enjoy exploring, swimming, surfing, boating, fishing or just relaxing along our nation’s public beaches and shorelines? What about venturing out to the ocean to see seals, dolphins or whales? Or visiting our coastal or marine park visitor centers to learn more about rivers, estuaries and the ocean? Do you appreciate the science conducted by researchers who investigate the mysteries beside, on and within the seas? 

These activities are all possible today because almost 50 years ago, in October 1972, the leaders of the nation took action and passed four key laws to help protect, conserve, study and inspire public appreciation for our coasts, Great Lakes and ocean: 

These four acts, together with the Clean Air Act (1970), National Environmental Policy Act (1970), Endangered Species Act (1973) and Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (1976) form the foundation for our nation’s modern-day conservation efforts. 

NOAA is celebrating the achievements of the last 50 years through the 50 Years of Ocean and Coastal Conservation campaign. We are also preparing for the challenges of the next 50 years and beyond. Our special aquatic places and species — and the communities that depend on them — need all of us to come together now more than ever. We must ensure that our ocean and coasts are prepared, resilient and adaptable to an increasingly dynamic natural and human environment. 

Learn more about "50 Years of Ocean and Coastal Conservation" and find resources for how you can love your coasts, Great Lakes and ocean. Spread the love (#OceanAndCoasts50) by sharing your own experiences with family, friends and colleagues about what a healthy ocean and coasts mean to you!