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 The Authorities

As required by the National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA) (also known as Title III of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972), NOAA will expend the settlement monies (received from the operators of the M/V Wellwood) toward restoration of the damaged site. The NMSA stipulates that recovered amounts in excess of that required to be expended for response costs and damage assessments must be used, in order of priority, to restore, replace, or acquire the equivalent of the sanctuary resources where the subject resources are located and to manage and improve any other national marine sanctuary. A restoration plan was developed as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The work being undertaken and described within this site constitutes the first stage of the restoration of the actual grounding site. Biological restoration and monitoring will follow.

National Marine Sanctuaries Act
16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.

The National Marine Sanctuaries Act mandates that parties who destroy, cause the loss of, or injure sanctuary resources are responsible for their restoration.

This is the principle statute governing the designation and management of protected marine areas of special significance. The statute requires NOAA to designate national marine sanctuaries in accordance with specific guidelines and to develop and review management plans for these sites. It provides for the continuation of existing leases, licenses and other established rights in sanctuary areas, and for the development of research and education programs. The statute also prohibits destruction, injury or loss of sanctuary resources, and establishes liability for response costs and natural resource damages for injury to these resources. The NMSA was formerly referred to as Title III of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972.

In 1981 Congress recognized the significance of this area when it designated the area as a National Marine Sanctuary, under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA). Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary was formally incorporated into the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in July 1997 with the publication of regulations implementing the 1990 congressional designation under the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Protection Act (Public Law 101-605) (FKNMSPA).

Specific Natural Resource Trustee Authorities of the NMSA:
Section 1432:

defines natural resource damages to include --
• the cost of replacing, restoring, or acquiring the equivalent of a sanctuary resource
• the value of the lost use of the resource pending its restoration
• cost of damage assessments, and reasonable costs of monitoring

Section 1443:

• establishes liability for destruction, loss of or injuries to sanctuary resources
• authorizes the pursuit of civil actions for response costs and damages

requires that recovered response costs and damages be used --
• to finance response actions and damage assessments
• to restore, replace, or acquire the equivalent of the injured sanctuary resource, and
• to manage and improve national marine sanctuaries.

NOAA's Other Legal Authorities for Restoring Coastal Resources

Explicit statutory authority to restore injured natural resources began with the Clean Water Act amendments of 1977 and continued with the later enactment of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERLCA or Superfund), the National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA), and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) and other related laws. As the primary Federal natural resource trustee for coastal resources, NOAA has responsibility for ensuring the restoration of coastal resources injured by releases of hazardous materials and of national marine sanctuary resources injured by physical impacts. The Clean Water Act, CERCLA and OPA mandate that parties that release hazardous materials and oil into the environment are responsible not only for the cost of cleaning up the release, but they are also responsible for restoring any injury to natural resources that resulted.



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