Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Welcome to the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary Resource Protection 
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.

Protecting the sanctuary's resources is a collaborative process involving local, State and Federal agencies as well as numerous nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). With the help of our partners, the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary staff focuses on education, permitting,
regulations, and appropriate enforcement, to help protect the sanctuary's resources. In addition the Sanctuary Superintendent meets regularly with the sanctuary advisory council to receive advice and recommendations regarding the protection and management of the sanctuary. For more information, please click on the program area links to the left.

Reducing Ship Strike Impacts on Whales

In June 2011 a consortium of environmental organizations petitioned NOAA to establish a 10-knot speed limit for vessels greater than 65 feet traveling within all California sanctuaries in order to protect whales from vessel strike and other negative impacts. See petition and NOAA's response to the petition.

In 2012, a Joint Vessel Strikes and Acoustic Impacts Working Group of Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farllalones national marine sanctuaries' advisory councils provided recommendations to the advisory councisl on ways to reduce impacts from ship strikes and vessel noise on whales. The JWG was comprised of multiple agencies, scientists, environmental organizations, and the shipping industry who came to consensus on what steps need to be taken to reduce the potential for vessel impacts to whales. The working group's report was unanimously adopted by both advisory councils. The sanctuary superintendents reviewed it for implementation actions.

Download the 2012 report here (3Mb pdf)

Shipping Lanes Adjustment June 2013

For more information on what sanctuaries are doing to reduce ship strike risk to whales click here

Preparing for Emergency Response During an Oil Spill

The Sanctuary acts as a resource trustee during oil spills or other emergency situations that could potentially impact sanctuary resources. To be better prepared for a spill, in 2011, the sanctuary advisory councils for Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries formed a Joint Vessel Spills and Oil Spill Response Technologies Working Group.

The Joint VSWG included technical members who discussed inter-agency coordination and response, dispersant decision protocols, oil spill trajectory models, response technologies and toxicology. The Joint VSWG provided a report with recommendations to the advisory councils on the use of various oil spill response technologies. The report was unanimously adopted by both advisory councils. The sanctuary superintendents reviewed it for implementation actions.

There is a continuing risk of vessel spills that could impact marine mammals, seabirds, other biota, and cultural resources in and around Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries. The sanctuaries' staffs are continually working to better understand the resources in and around the sanctuary.

Download the 2012 report here (1.5Mb pdf)


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

On March 9, 2009 modified and new regulations for Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary became effective. The final rule is posted in the Federal Register. The regulation changes were the outcome of a multiyear joint management plan review of Monterey Bay, Gulf of the Farallones, and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries.

Regulatory changes are intended to clarify and strengthen protections for marine habitats, sensitive species, water quality, and submerged cultural and historic resources. The summarized regulations are intended for general informational purposes only.

Download the Summary of Prohibitions (80k pdf)

Download the Full Set of Regulations as published in the Federal Register (328kb pdf)

Download the Summary Table of Regulatory Changes (1.5Mb pdf)

Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary Permitting

A permit is required when an individual wishes to conduct an activity within a sanctuary that is otherwise prohibited. Refer to our Frequently Asked Questions (76k pdf) to help determine if a permit is required for your proposed activity. Guidance on how to apply for a sanctuary permit can be found on this page.

How to Apply
For most proposed activities, an Office of National Marine Sanctuaries permit application must be completed. Instructions, application forms, and related information can be found here: Information about permits for artificial reefs or special uses may be found here.

Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary reviews activities on a case-by-case basis. Permit requests are evaluated based on their potential single and cumulative impacts to sanctuary resources versus the potential benefits the activity may provide in terms of resource protection.

Where to Apply
Submit completed applications to the office for the sanctuary in which you plan to conduct the activity. For Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, contact Resource Protection Coordinator

Sanctuary Prohibitions
In 2009 the site revised its management plan and new regulations were part of the new plan along with slight revisions to existing regulations. Activities prohibited in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary can be found in program regulations here. If your proposed activity includes any prohibited action, a permit is likely required.


Enforcement at Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary is challenging due to the site's remote location. The sanctuary relies on the watchful eyes of users for information, and partnerships with state and federal agencies to enforce regulations. Educating users about sanctuary regulations and sensitive resources is an important part of the site's resource protection strategy.

Help Us Out
You are an integral part of our enforcement effort. Please share with others what you know about the sanctuary and encourage their compliance with sanctuary regulations.

NOAA Office of Law Enforcement
To report an incident anonymously, call 800-853-1964 or via the web at leaves the site

Let Us Know
Report unusual activity, or if you see or hear of prohibited activities taking place in the sanctuary, contact Michael Carver, the Sanctuary's Resource Protection Coordinator at: 415-464-5262 or

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