Policy & Planning

The National Marine Sanctuary System brings together a collection of some of America's most significant and treasured places. Taken together, the sanctuary system conserves a network of ocean and Great Lakes environments with extraordinary biodiversity, scenic beauty, cultural heritage and economic opportunity. Within the system, each national marine sanctuary has unique ecosystems, resources and human uses. And while all sanctuaries emphasize resource protection and decision-making based on the best available scientific and socioeconomic data, they are managed per their own individual issues and opportunities.

Policy and planning within the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is designed to manage both the sum and the parts of the sanctuary system. It follows the principles of public participation and adaptive management, both of which are fundamental to the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.

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Planning

Each national marine sanctuary has its own management plan. Click here to learn more about the management planning process and to find all the respective sanctuary management plans.

Planning

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Sanctuary Expansions and Designations

Click here to learn more about growth of the sanctuary system, from nomination of new areas to expansion of the existing national marine sanctuaries.

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Laws and Regulations

Click here to learn more about the regulations, laws and policies that govern the management of national marine sanctuaries. You can also find all Federal Register notices published by ONMS here.

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Permitting

Find out more about the national marine sanctuary permitting process. Permits may allow certain activities that are otherwise prohibited in national marine sanctuaries.

Permitting

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Enforcement

Learn more about how ONMS and its partners enforce the National Marine Sanctuaries Act and national marine sanctuary regulations.

Enforcement

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Damage Assessment

Find out more about how ONMS determines the nature, degree and extent of injuries to sanctuary resources and how we work to mitigate them.

Damage Assessment

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Consultation

Learn more about how ONMS consults with other federal agencies on actions that may affect sanctuary resources.

Consultation

A cheery spectacled parrotfish (Chlorurus perspicillatus) swims through the reef at Midway Atoll, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

Environmental Compliance

Learn more about how ONMS implements environmental compliance for all of our actions.

Environmental Compliance

An especially high tide off Santa Barbara, California inundates a stairway to the beach.

Climate Change

Discover how climate change is affecting our nation’s underwater treasures, what the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is doing about it, and how you can help.

Climate Change