Sanctuaries have strong connections to local communities and special places

Socioeconomic Vision

Provide the best possible social science to give all stakeholders a voice in the management of sanctuary resources and foster a more cooperative management process.

Guiding Principle

Help NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries achieve its mission goals.


Socioeconomics is organized under ONMS Conservation Science. This program follows the framework of characterization, monitoring, and research.  Socioeconomics also includes what many are now calling the field of "human dimensions" of natural resource and environmental management.

Conservation science operates independently from the development of policy in ONMS, but addresses problems of mutual interest.  This ensures objective, sound science and scientists do not serve as advocates for any user group/stakeholder.  As our vision statement indicates, sanctuary scientists pursue the best possible science and involve stakeholders in determining goals and objectives of social science projects.


Social scientist focuses on the understanding of how humans interact with natural and cultural resources and how they depend upon these resources for their lives and livelihoods.


Social scientist monitors the types and levels of use of natural and cultural resources and how changes in the types and levels of use impact the lives and livelihoods of all stakeholders.


Research projects within the sanctuary system allow social scientist to address other socioeconomic information needs that are not recognized through site characterization and monitoring.

Economic Valuation

Although socioeconomics/human dimensions research covers a broad range of disciplines (e.g. economics, anthropology, sociology, political science, geography, social psychology and history), economic valuation is considered the most important element of ONMS Socioeconomics.  ONMS economic valuation includes both nonmarket and market economic values of direct uses of natural and cultural resources as well as what economists call passive economic use value or what many have referred to as nonuse value.  People who are willing to pay to protect natural and cultural resources in a certain condition even though they will never directly use those resources are considered legitimate stakeholders in the management of our national marine sanctuaries.  See the report below generally describing economic valuation in national marine sanctuaries. 

Valuing Our National Marine Sanctuaries (pdf, 275k)

Danielle Schwarzmann
NOAA/NOS/Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
1305 East West Hwy., SSMC4, 11th floor
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Telephone: 240-533-0705
Fax: 301-713-0404