Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Diver Advisory Council

A sanctuary advisory council is a community-based advisory group consisting of representatives from various user groups, government agencies and the public at large. The role of the council is to provide advice to the sanctuary superintendent on the designation and operation of a national marine sanctuary. All fourteen sites in the sanctuary system have an advisory council. The Gray's Reef Sanctuary Advisory Council was established in September 1999.

Sanctuary Advisory Council - October 2018

(L to R): LT Anthony Gallegos, Suzanne VanParreren, Warren Hupman, Peter Auster, Mark Padgett, Colby Harris, Joseph Glenn, Mona Behl, Scott Noakes, Jene Nissen, Mary Conley, Tim Tarver, Bob Crimian, Michael Denmark, Capt. Bob Lynn, Tim Henkel. Front: Elliott Lam, Lisa Wooninck.
(Photo: Michelle Riley, GRNMS)

Sanctuary Advisory Council Roles

The Sanctuary Advisory Council serves as a forum for consultation and deliberation for the community and as a source of consensus-based advice to the sanctuary superintendent. This is a community-based participatory process that assures continued public input to management decision-making, while at the same time expanding public awareness about the sanctuary and challenging marine resource management issues. Specifically, the Advisory Council's objectives are to provide the sanctuary superintendent with advice on:

  • Protecting natural and cultural resources, and identifying and evaluating emergent or critical issues involving sanctuary use or resources;
  • Identifying and realizing the Sanctuary's research objectives;
  • Identifying and realizing education opportunities to increase the public knowledge and stewardship of the sanctuary environment;
  • Assisting to develop an informed constituency to increase awareness and understanding of the purpose and value of the sanctuary and of the National Marine Sanctuary System;

More information on how the Council conducts its business can be found in the Sanctuary Council Advisory Charter (revised October 2016, Amended June 2017).

All of the National Marine Sanctuaries have established Advisory Councils. You can find information about other Sanctuary Advisory Councils at NOAA's National Marine Sanctuaries web site. One of the Advisory Council's most important strengths comes from the diversity of its membership. The Advisory Council consists of nineteen members representing education, research, sport diving, sport fishing, charter / commercial fishing, conservation, law enforcement and selected government agencies. More information on the Advisory Council members can be found on the Sanctuary Advisory Council Members' list.

The Advisory Council conducts itself in an open, transparent, and publicly accessible process. This allows for comprehensive and effective participation of all stakeholders. All meetings of the Advisory Council are advertised and open to the public; and meeting documents are available for review. Each member links the sanctuary and the Advisory Council process to extensive networks of constituencies. The Advisory Council thus serves as the sanctuary's link to the broader community of stakeholders and as an entry point for community participation in sanctuary management.

The Advisory Council process is helping to vest ownership and responsibility for shaping the future management and protection of the Sanctuary in the community most interested in and dependent upon sanctuary resources. In this way, a sense of community-based sanctuary stewardship is fostered.

For more information, contact Scott Kathey, Resource Protection Coordinator, at or 912-598-2381.

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