In 1972, 100 years after the birth of the science of oceanography, the US started the NOAA National Marine Sanctuary program. Many of you may not be aware of the fact that we do have our own National Marine Sanctuary right off the coast of the OBX, the Monitor Marine Sanctuary. The Monitor NMS was the first US National Marine Sanctuary established in 1975. This is the smallest marine sanctuary in the US and is in place to protect the Union USS Monitor ship wreck.
There are currently extension plans that NOAA has drawn up! Many of them include small expansion to cover more shipwrecks in the area off the coast of NC. This area is nicknamed the Graveyard of the Atlantic, due in part because this area with it's 3 converging currents is where many of our offshore storms start. So there are many shipwrecks, and the main threat to them is damage from commercial fishing. These extensions don't reach totally into the Hope Spot: Hatteras area, however extension C does cover a lot of ocean. Currently these extension plans are facing a lot of opposition.
Now if these extensions happen or another NMS was established protecting the Hope Spot region along the continental shelf, the regulations for the area could not be determined now, as they are based on local regulations and legislation and each NMS has different rules depending on the area. We believe the designation of a Hope Spot off the coast of Cape Hatteras will go a long way towards increasing support for and helping to establish formal protection of the unique ecosystems and creatures right off our coasts.