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 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, Subpart 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.

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

NOAA is considering allowing the United States Coast Guard (USCG), via exceptions in the regulations, to carry out otherwise prohibited vessel sewage, graywater and training-related discharges, seaward of approximately 3 nautical miles from shore, within the areas added to Cordell Bank and Greater Farallones and national marine sanctuaries' (CBNMS and GFNMS) boundaries due to their expansion in 2015. NOAA is considering this in order to address USCG concerns that the expansion of CBNMS and GFNMS, with the resulting larger sizes of the sanctuaries and extension of the discharge prohibitions to the expanded portions of the sanctuaries, would make it difficult for the USCG to both fulfill its missions and comply with the discharge prohibitions in the expansion areas. While considering what final action to take, NOAA has delayed the effective date for the sanctuaries' regulations prohibiting discharges in the expansion areas, with respect to USCG activities, until December 9, 2018 or 30 days after publication of a final rule (whichever comes first).

The process for this proposed action is composed of four major stages.

  1. Information collection and characterization (scoping). Completed.
  2. Preparation of a draft environmental assessment; release of proposed amendments to the regulations ("proposed rule") and associated draft environmental assessment. Completed.
  3. Public review of, and comments accepted on, the proposed rule and associated draft environmental assessment. Completed.
  4. Preparation and release of a final environmental assessment, and final rule, if appropriate. This is the current stage of the process.

For more information about this proposed action, including copies of the proposed rule and draft environmental assessment, visit these websites: the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal - Docket ID NOAA-NOS-2017-0140 or Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Regulations.