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Public comment period open on proposal to make parts of Lake Ontario a marine sanctuary

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The eastern part of Lake Ontario could become a national marine sanctuary. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has opened a public comment period on the proposal.

Ellen Brody is the Great Lakes regional coordinator for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

"In many ways," she told WXXI, "sanctuaries are like national parks in that our mission is to protect a resource."

She said this effort was spearheaded by the counties along the shore of Lake Ontario, which pushed for recognition and protection of the lake’s shipwrecks.

There are 13 other marine sanctuaries in the U.S. – but only one in the Great Lakes. It’s in Thunder Bay, in Lake Huron. Since the designation, Brody said it's seen an uptick in tourism.

"It's a very popular place and really serves as a model for the Great Lakes region but also the national program," she said.

NOAA is asking for public comment about the designation petition through the end of July, and it will be holding public meetings in June.