John Pieno

Shipwreck divers worry sanctuary limits will expand

By Catherine Kozak


Nearly 29 years have passed since the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary was created off the coast of Cape Hatteras, and since then significant parts of the Civil War ironclad it protects have been recovered in federal diving expeditions.

That's not all that has transpired. Other wrecks were discovered off the Outer Banks, oil companies had expressed interest in making explorations nearby and a new shipwreck museum on the tip of Hatteras Island is almost completed.

Now, plans to revise and update the management plan of the nation's first marine sanctuary have some recreational divers and watermen concerned that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration may want to expand it.

"I'm totally against any more limited access and the inclusion of any more wrecks - that includes World War II wrecks," John Pieno, a Hatteras dive business operator, said Thursday at a public meeting about the plan.

"If we can't shipwreck dive, it's a detriment to our economy. The status quo is fine with us now."