Sanctuary Regulations

brown pelican landing on water

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. Office of National Marine Sanctuaries regulations that are generally applicable to all sanctuary sites are found at Title 15, Subtitle B, Chapter IX, Subchapter B, Part, 922, Subparts A through E. Regulations that specifically apply to Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS) are found at Title 15, Subtitle B, Chapter IX, Subchapter B, Part 922, Subpart H. 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 of the sanctuary in 2015, new regulations were created to help protect and manage the area from Bodega Bay in Sonoma County to Manchester Beach (at Latitude 39 North), a few miles north of the Point Arena Lighthouse in Mendocino County (excluding Arena Cove and all rivers and estuaries), including both state and federal waters. In addition, some modifications were made to the regulations that applied to the pre-expansion area of the sanctuary. Full text of the modified Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary final regulations are posted in the Federal Register (Vol. 80, No. 48; March 12, 2015) as the Final Rule (PDF, 318KB), effective Jun. 9, 2015.

Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS) accepts permits for Research, Education, Salvage/Recovery Operations and Management purposes.

Proposed Changes in GFNMS and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (CBNMS) Regulations for Certain U.S. Coast Guard Discharges

The public comment period closed on Jan 16, 2018 on a proposed rule and an associated draft environmental assessment that considers allowing the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) 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 Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries' boundaries when they expanded in 2015. NOAA is proposing exceptions to the discharge prohibitions in order to address USCG concerns that the expansion of GFNMS and CBNMS, 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. Read the Superintendents' statement and the Section 106 Review on this proposed action.

The proposed regulatory exceptions would enable the USCG to continue surveillance of activities in GFNMS and CBNMS, conduct monitoring and enforcement activities to uphold the National Marine Sanctuaries Act and its implementing regulations; and conduct other USCG mission activities during non-emergency situations that support sanctuary management. The proposed action would also support the USCG in training its personnel to be ready for emergency search and rescue and use of force activities. In formulating the proposed rule, NOAA considered a number of factors discussed more fully in the draft environmental assessment, and alternatives.

NOAA accepted comments in the first stage of this 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; these are posted here. In addition, a separate Federal Register notice extends the postponement of the discharge requirements for USCG activities in the expansion areas of GFNMS and CBNMS until December 9, 2018 to allow for completion of a final rule, if appropriate.

The 56-day public comment period (November 22, 2017 - January 16, 2018) on the proposed rule and draft environmental assessment is now closed. Comments received during the public comment period may be viewed here. NOAA is reviewing the comments received during the public comment period and the results of consultations with other agencies, and is working to select a final action, This webpage will be updated once NOAA  has selected a final action.