About Ocean, Coasts and Great Lakes Activities

What we do

Sec. Jewell viewing downed trees on the shorelineInterior provides public access to our Nation's seashores, refuges, parks and monuments in coastal and marine environments. Interior collaborates, coordinates and supports other Federal agencies, States, Tribes, and a wide array of partners to manage resources at landscape and ecosystem scales. Interior supports programs that work across political boundaries and through community engagement to promote health, reduce risk, and support sustainable resources. Interior uses science-based and adaptive management to increase our understanding of natural resources and inform their responsible use, conservation and management so that they are able to adapt to changing conditions.

Interior experts provide data, tools, and information to inform and support multiple levels of leaders and decision makers so they can manage upland watersheds, coastal and estuarine ecosystems, continental shelf and deep ocean environments and the natural and cultural resources that exist in them. These include wetlands, watersheds, refuges, monuments, parks, coastlines, and open ocean areas in all 50 states and U.S. territories in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes and the Caribbean Sea.

Brochure image
A printable 4-fold brochure describes Interior’s Ocean Role
Download the PDF

Note: this document should be printed on 11 x 14-inch paper, landscape orientation, folded in quarters vertically.) 

Interior Bureaus: 

  • conduct robust scientific programs to inform decisions and reduce risk,
  • ensure safe and responsible development of natural, mineral and energy resources,
  • promote healthy, productive and connected ecosystems through informed and adaptive management and monitoring,
  • protect native species and their habitats,
  • provide rich cultural and recreational opportunities for the public, and
  • support partnerships at state, Tribal, regional and local levels

Interior studies, manages, protects, and provides access to these significant resources:

  • More than 35,000 miles of national coastline
  • More than 34 million acres in marine and coastal National Parks managed by the National Park Service.
  • More than 180 marine and coastal National Wildlife Refuges managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • More than 1.7 billion underwater acres of Outer Continental Shelf managed by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).
  • More than 1,100 miles of the California Coastal National Monument managed by the Bureau of Land Management as well as additional coastal lands in Florida, Alabama, Oregon, Washington and Alaska.
  • More than 473,000,000 square miles in the Pacific Remote Islands, Marianas Trench, Papahānaumokuākea, and Rose Atoll Marine National Monuments and associated National Wildlife Refuges.

BIA SealThe Bureau of Indian Affairs

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) supports a wide variety of ocean, coastal and Great Lakes activities and programs that help tribes and Alaska Natives manage coastal and cultural resources. http://www.bia.gov/

BLM SealThe Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) works with a wide variety of partners to protect coastal resources, habitats and species including the California Coastal National Monument, a unique collection of the public lands consisting of a network of more than 20,000 small islands, rocks, exposed reefs, and pinnacles that provide a haven for animals and plants along the California coast. http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en.html


Both the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) play key roles in America's energy supply by managing renewable and mineral resources on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), a significant source of our Nation's energy supply.

BOEM SealBureau of Ocean Energy Management

BOEM manages the exploration and development of the nation's offshore energy and mineral resources. The Bureau seeks to balance economic development, energy independence, and environmental protection through responsible management of offshore conventional and renewable energy development based on the best available science. http://www.boem.gov/

BOEM publishes Ocean Science, a science and technology journal. http://www.boem.gov/ocean-science/

BSEE SealThe Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement

BSEE is responsible for overseeing the safe and environmentally responsible development of our Nation's traditional and renewable ocean energy and mineral resources. BSEE works to promote safety, protect the environment, and conserve resources offshore through vigorous regulatory oversight and enforcement. http://www.bsee.gov/

NPS SealThe National Park Service

The National Park Service (NPS) manages ocean, coastal and Great Lakes parks across 22 states and four territories. Established for their beauty and national significance, these parks conserve over 11,000 miles of coast and 2.5 million acres of ocean and Great Lakes waters, including coral reefs, kelp forests, glaciers, estuaries, beaches, wetlands, historic forts and shipwrecks. The ocean and coastal parks comprise a system of diverse biological, recreational and historic value to the nation. They attract over 86 million visits each year and provide educational opportunities to build public awareness of these resources. NPS has adopted strategies to increase the agency's organizational and scientific capacity to address ocean and coastal issues in partnership with state and federal agencies and local organizations. Together these partnerships are working to address multiple threats to natural and cultural resources from inside and outside of park boundaries that include: intense population growth and development, overfishing, climate change, pollution and watershed degradation, shoreline impacts from infrastructure and sea-level rise, invasive species and recreational overuse of park resources. http://www.nature.nps.gov/water/oceancoastal/

OIA SealThe Office of Insular Affairs

The Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) is working with the U.S.-affiliated insular areas to protect coral reefs.  Through the Micronesia Challenge, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Guam, and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands committed to protect at least 30 percent of near-shore marine resources and 20 percent of terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020.

FWS SealU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) manages the National Wildlife Refuge System which includes 181 refuges that protect ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes environments. From above the Arctic Circle to south of the Equator, the Refuge System protects an incredible diversity of marine and coastal ecosystems within the U.S. and U.S. territories, including salt marshes, rocky shorelines, tide pools, sandy beaches, kelp forests, mangroves, seagrass meadows, barrier islands, estuaries, lagoons, tidal creeks, tropical coral atolls, as well as open ocean. Within the Refuge System, the Coastal Program is a voluntary habitat conservation program that uses science-based conservation design to address the conservation priorities of the Service and our partners, and to provide effective stewardship of the nation's coastal and estuarine natural resources.

USGS LogoU.S. Geological Survey

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) works closely with academic institutions, states, Tribes, and other Federal agencies to advance science and technology in support of Interior's varied responsibilities. USGS research, monitoring, mapping and data management supports increased understanding of coastal and ocean systems, human and wildlife health, and landscape-scale change. http://marine.usgs.gov/
USGS shares news about ocean and coastal research activities in Sound Waves, an on-line newsletter.