NOAA has designated Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary – USA's 15th and newest national marine sanctuary. It is located in Lake Michigan along the coast of Wisconsin. It was created to protect shipwrecks considered nationally important archaeological resources.
At the time of its designation in 2021, the sanctuary included 36 known shipwrecks dating from the 1830s to the 1930s, including Wisconsin's two oldest known shipwrecks, the schooners Gallinipper, which was constructed in 1833 and sank in 1851, and Home, which was built in 1843 and sank in 1858.
Spanning the early 1800s through the 20th century, the shipwrecks represent a cross-section of vessel types that played critical roles in transforming the Great Lakes from a maritime frontier into the nation’s busiest waterway. The ships carried grain and raw materials east as other vessels travelled west loaded with coal, manufactured goods, and settlers.
Co-managed with the state of Wisconsin, the sanctuary will also bring new opportunities for research, resource protection, educational programming, and community engagement. In partnership with local communities, the sanctuary will provide a national stage for promoting heritage tourism and recreation.
Upon designating the area as a sanctuary, NOAA announced that it would stay a prohibition on grappling into or anchoring on shipwreck sites in the sanctuary until October 1, 2023.
The delay in the imposition of this regulation was intended to give NOAA time to install mooring buoys that would make anchoring or grappling unnecessary, establish policies allowing access to shipwrecks where mooring buoys would not be installed, and explore the possibility of allowing some diving activities it originally intended to prohibit, such as allowing divers to attach mooring lines directly to some shipwrecks.
Sources: NOAA, Wikipedia