Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Welcome to the National Marine Sanctuaries 
web site. Here you'll discover the marine life and extraordinary habitats that make up your nation's 
marine sanctuaries and our continuing efforts to conserve these ocean and coastal treasures.

Notice (March 2015): Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary is expanding. Once the expansion is effective later this year, this website will be updated. Click here to learn more

National Marine Sanctuaries

In 1972, in response to a growing awareness of the value of our coastal waters, Congress passed the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act. The act authorized the designation of National Marine Sanctuaries to protect significant waters and secure habitat for marine species, shelter historically significant shipwrecks and other cultural resources, and serve as valuable spots for research, fishing, wildlife viewing, boating, and tourism. Find out more about the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.

sanctuary map
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Marine Sanctuaries protect some of our countries most dynamic and beautiful marine environments, and storied maritime heritage resources. Americans have been enjoying National Marine Sanctuaries for nearly 40 years and the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (CBNMS) is one of the fourteen sites managed by NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. See more background on management of the sanctuaries.

Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary

On May 24, 1989, Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary was designated as the eighth sanctuary in the nation protecting an ocean area of 399 square nautical miles (529 square miles) off the northern California coast. The sanctuary is charged with protecting and conserving the site's resources while allowing uses that are compatible with resource protection.

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Sanctuary Administration

pinnacle map Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary is located entirely in federal waters and managed by the sanctuary superintendent and staff with oversight provided by the West Coast Regional Office in Monterey and the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries in Silver Spring, Maryland. A sanctuary advisory council has been established to provide advice and recommendations on various issues of concern throughout the sanctuary.

Acting as the federal resource trustee responsible for managing Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary requires an understanding of authorizing legislation, regulations, management plans and permitting. Following mandates and requirements of these documents ensures that these wild ocean places will be protected for future generations.

Download the Sanctuary Designation Document
Designation Document/Notice of National Marine Sanctuary Designation/ final rule/ and summary of final management plan
(5.32 MB)

The Sanctuary's Role in Resource Protection

Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary was designated in 1989 to protect and preserve a 529 square mile region around Cordell Bank. The sanctuary develops programs and supports initiatives that strengthen resource protection and ensures best management practices for the long-term health of the Cordell Bank region. Resource protection efforts include increasing ocean awareness, knowledge, and stewardship, monitoring ocean conditions, conducting research to better understand ocean processes, and enforcing sanctuary regulations. The sanctuary works closely with enforcement partners to protect water quality, ocean habitat, and biological diversity. Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary completed its first management plan review in 2009 that established the foundation for resource protection in the sanctuary.

Management Issues

Click here for a list of priority management issues facing CBNMS and the science and information needed to address these issues. The purpose of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) Science Needs Assessment is to provide targeted information on the science requirements of the ONMS based on the management issues defined in the Sanctuary Management Plan and Sanctuary Condition Report. The assessments guide CBNMS science activities and assist in communicating science needs to potential partners and interested organizations and individuals.