Know before you Go

photo of a nudibranch
Colorful nudibranch (shell-less mollusk) at Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary Credit: Greg McFall

National Marine Sanctuary regulations are codified in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at Title 15 - Commerce and Foreign Trade, Part 922. These may be accessed on the U.S. Government Printing Office Electronic CFR web site

Note: regulations covering the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries/generally applicable to all sanctuary sites are found at Title 15, Subtitle B, Chapter IX, Subchapter B, Part, 922 Subparts A through E) and regulations specifically covering Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary are found at Title 15, Subtitle B, Chapter IX, Subchapter B, Part 922, Supart K.

As part of the expansion process for Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, a final rule (538KB pdf) with revised regulations was published in the Federal Register on March 12, 2015. The regulations and revised Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary management plan became effective June 9, 2015. The notice of the effective date of the regulations (7 KB) was printed in the Federal Register on June 15, 2015. The notice also announced that effective June 15, 2015, NOAA changed the name of Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary to "Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary" and made some corresponding technical corrections to the regulations. In addition to expanding the sanctuaries' boundaries, the regulatory changes are intended to clarify and strengthen protections for marine habitats, sensitive species, water quality, and historical resources, while allowing uses compatible with resource protection.

Possible Changes in Regulations for CBNMS and GFNMS to Exempt Certain USCG Discharges

Pursuant to a request from the United States Coast Guard (USCG), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is considering developing future rulemaking to allow the following USCG discharges within part or all of Cordell Bank and Greater Farallones national marine sanctuaries (CBNMS and GFNMS): untreated vessel sewage, vessel graywater (as defined by the Federal Water Pollution Control Act [FWPCA]) that does not meet the definition of clean, and ammunition and flare materials used in USCG training exercises for use of force and search and rescue. NOAA has delayed the date for the regulations covering these discharges to take effect; see the most current Federal Register notice published June 7, 2017 about this.

The process for this action is composed of four major stages:

1. Information collection and characterization (scoping);
2. Preparation and release of a draft environmental assessment under NEPA, and any proposed amendments to the regulations if appropriate;
3. Public review and comment on the draft environmental assessment and any proposed amendments to the regulations; and
4. Preparation and release of a final environmental assessment, and any final amendments to the regulations if appropriate.

NOAA accepted comments in the first stage of this environmental process between April 21 and May 31, 2016, to gather information to determine the relevant scope of issues and range of alternatives to be addressed in the draft environmental assessment, including electronically, via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal; by mail; and at three public scoping meetings, held May 10 (Sausalito), 11 (Bodega Bay) and 12 (Sausalito), 2016.

See the Federal Register notice published April 21, 2016 for additional information.