Know Before You Go - Sanctuary Regulations

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 website

Note: regulations covering the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries are codified at Title 15, Subtitle B, Chapter IX, Subchapter B, Part, 922. Subpart A contains regulations of general applicability; Subpart B contains permitting regulations; and there are subparts with regulations for specific national marine sanctuaries. Regulations specifically covering Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary are found at Title 15, Subtitle B, Chapter IX, Subchapter B, Part 922, Subpart K. This listing only includes regulations established under the federal National Marine Sanctuary Act (NMSA). Other activities may also be regulated within the sanctuary under other local, state or federal authorities and regulations.

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.

CBNMS and GFNMS Regulations for Certain U.S. Coast Guard Discharges

NOAA released a final rule in November 2018 to allow the United States Coast Guard (USCG) to continue to make two types of vessel and training-related discharges beyond approximately three nautical miles from shore in the areas added to Cordell Bank and Greater Farallones national marine sanctuaries when their boundaries expanded in 2015. The final rule addresses concerns the USCG had raised that the post-expansion, larger sizes of the sanctuaries and extension of the discharge prohibitions to the expanded portions of the sanctuaries would have made it difficult for the USCG to both fulfill various mission requirements and comply with the discharge prohibitions in the expansion areas. Read the Superintendents' statement on this final rule. To get more information, including copies of the final environmental assessment and final rule, visit this page: Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Regulations.

Seafloor Protection in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act is the primary law governing marine fisheries management in U.S. federal waters. NOAA Fisheries is the lead agency for implementation of the actions in U.S. federal waters related to this law, including actions taken within Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Learn about Essential Fish Habitat designations in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary by visiting this page.

Other Ocean and Coastal Law

Management of ocean and coastal resources and activities involves many different issues. National marine sanctuary regulations are an important part of this; however, there are a number of other laws and regulations with management mandates, administered by agencies at different jurisdictional levels (international, national, state, and local). While there is no single source for all a reader may wish to learn regarding international, national and state ocean laws, NOAA's Office of General Counsel provides an overview of seaward limits of federal laws.