Guidelines for Submitting Applications for MBNMS Special Use Permits
National Marine Sanctuaries are recognized as resource areas of national significance. Their distinctive characteristics have established them as environmental and historic resources for scientific research and public education. Each Sanctuary has specific regulations in place to safeguard marine resources within its boundaries. The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) has developed a system of permits and authorizations to review requests to conduct otherwise prohibited activities.
Section 310 of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act (16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.; NMSA) gives the ONMS the authority to issue special use permits. Special use permits are generally used for commercial activities. Pursuant to the NMSA, activities conducted under a special use permit must: (1) establish conditions of access to and use of any sanctuary resource; or (2) promote public use and understanding of a sanctuary resource. Those applying for special use permits must state how these purposes will be met.
Pursuant to section 310(b) of the NMSA, NOAA cannot issue a special use permit for any type of activity unless NOAA has notified the public that that type of activity is subject to the requirements of special use permits. Currently NOAA is in the process of publishing a Federal Register notice to provide such notice. Applicants for special use permits will be required to show that the type of activity they are proposing meets the description of one of the types of activities for which NOAA has provided public notice. This list will be modified from time to time as new categories of activities are listed. As of the publication date of the Federal Register notice in preparation, the following types of activities are eligible for special use permits:
- The disposa of cremated human remains by a commercial operator in any National Marine Sanctuary;
- The operation of aircraft below the minimum altitude in restricted zones of National Marine Sanctuaries for commercial purposes;
- The placement of objects on non-living substrate of the seabed associated with public events; and
- The discharge and immediate recovery of objects related to special effects of motion pictures.
Anyone conducting prohibited activities without a valid National Marine Sanctuary permit or authorization may be subject to the penalties as provided under Section 307 of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (as amended). A civil penalty of up to $140,000 for each violation of any regulation may be levied.
B. APPLICATION (Click here to download)
- Cover Sheet or Letter: The cover sheet or letter shall identify the following: l) name of the National Marine Sanctuary in which the proposed activity will take place; 2) title of the project; 3) name, address, telephone number, and affiliation of the applicant; 4) name, address, telephone number, and affiliation of and relationship of any colleagues covered by the special use permit; 5) project duration; 6) funding source; and 7) signature of the applicant.
- Project Summary or Abstract: A 250-word (maximum) summary shall include a brief statement of objectives, methods to be used, and why it is preferable that the activity occurs within the boundaries of the Sanctuary. The summary shall also specify the significance of the proposed work to a particular Sanctuary or to the National Marine Sanctuary System.
Information: This includes clear, concise, and complete statements in
the following categories:
- Purpose. Reason for the activity.
- Objectives. State the objectives of the project.
- Project Significance. Explain why the project needs to be conducted in the Sanctuary and the potential benefits to the Sanctuary (if any). Also explain how the proposed activity meets one of the two criteria for special use permits (refer to section D of these guidelines) and how the proposed activity meets one of the types of activities for which special use permits can be issued by the ONMS (refer to section A of these guidelines). If the proposed activity does not meet the description of one of the types of activities for which NOAA has provided public notice, NOAA would need to publish a new Federal Register notice and solicit public comments on the use of special use permits for the type of activity proposed prior to issuing a permit.
- Methods. Describe the tasks required to accomplish the project's objectives. Provide an adequate description of methods and procedures. Describe the rationale for selecting the proposed methods over any alternative methods. Specify the exact location of work within the Sanctuary and provide a map showing the proposed project location(s) and a description of the habitat area affected. Also indicate the intended start date, frequency, and anticipated duration of the proposed activity. Describe how the methods will ensure that there will be no destruction of, loss of, or injury to any Sanctuary resources.
- Personnel. Identify the individuals who would be supervising project activities. Provide qualifications and evidence of ability to perform and supervise tasks. The permittee is ultimately responsible for all activities carried out under special use permits.
- Environmental Consequences
Discuss the environmental consequences of conducting the activity and indicate whether the activity could be conducted outside the Sanctuary and still accomplish the project's objectives. Explain how this activity will be conducted in manner that will not destroy, cause the loss of, or injure any Sanctuary resource. Describe any methods or techniques that will be employed to reduce the risk of injury to Sanctuary resources posed by the project.
- Supporting Information
- Financial Support. Indicate the source of financing for the proposed activity to show that any conditions designed to eliminate impacts to Sanctuary resources can be complied with given the funds available to complete the project.
- Copies of Other Permits. Applicant must include, if applicable, copies of other federal, state and/or local permits issued (e.g. EPA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, local building permits).
- Other Sanctuary Permits or Authorizations. Applicants should include a listing of all their previous Sanctuary permits / authorizations.
- Comprehensive Liability Insurance. Applicants will be required to purchase and maintain comprehensive general liability insurance, or to post an equivalent bond, against claims arising out of activities conducted under the permit and to agree to hold the United States harmless against such claims. Applicants should show proof of such insurance with the rest of the application materials.
C. SUBMISSION OF SPECIAL USE PERMIT APPLICATIONS
One (1) copy of applications for special use permits should be sent to the Permit Coordinator. Special use permit applications must be submitted at least thirty (30) days in advance of the requested effective date to allow sufficient time for evaluation and processing. Sensitive or complicated applications should be submitted 90 days in advance. If additional time is required for review, the applicant will be notified within 20 days of the receipt of the application. Some activities proposed to be conducted under a special use permit may require additional documentation as required by the National Environmental Policy Act. If additional documentation is necessary, the Sanctuary will contact the applicant within 20 days to discuss how best to complete the required documentation and to decide on an appropriate timeline for completing this documentation and making a final decision on the application. Requests for permits must be addressed to the manager or superintendent of the Sanctuary in which the activities are to be conducted. A listing of their addresses and phone numbers can be found in Section I.
D. EVALUATION OF SPECIAL USE PERMIT APPLICATIONS
Special use permit applications are reviewed for completeness and adherence to these guidelines and the NMSA. Applicants will be contacted for clarification if applications are incomplete. Complete applications are reviewed by on-site Sanctuary personnel, ONMS program officials, and, where necessary, outside experts. Section 310 of the NMSA allows the ONMS to issue special use permits for activities that:
- establish conditions of access to and use of any sanctuary resource; or
- promote public use and understanding of a sanctuary resource.
Applicants should clearly state how their activity meets one of those criteria.
E. CONDITIONS OF SPECIAL USE PERMITS
Based on the reviews of the application, the Sanctuary will approve or deny the special use permit application. If denied, applicants are notified of the reason(s) for denial and informed of the appeal process. If approved, the Sanctuary manager or superintendent will issue the special use permit.
Special use permittees must counter-sign the permit and return copies to the Sanctuary prior to conducting the approved activities. Copies must be signed and returned within 10 days of receipt by the permittee. If not returned within 30 days, the special use permit will automatically be canceled.
Special use permittees must be present during all authorized operations. Special use permits are non-transferable. Special use permittees must abide by all provisions set forth in the special use permit and the NMSA. Project summaries and technical information are incorporated into the conditions of the permit. Authorized activities must be conducted with adequate safeguards for the environment. To the extent possible, the environment shall be returned to the conditions that existed prior to the permitted activity.
Section 310 of the NMSA allows the Secretary of Commerce to issue special use permits to authorize the conduct of specific activities with four conditions. The NMSA requires that special use permits-
- Shall authorize the conduct of an activity only if that activity is compatible with the purposes for which the Sanctuary is designated and with protection of Sanctuary resources;
- Shall not authorize the conduct of any activity for a period of more than 5 years unless renewed by the Secretary;
- Shall require that activities carried out under the permit be conducted in a manner that does not destroy, cause the loss of, or injure Sanctuary resources; and
- Shall require the permittee to purchase and maintain comprehensive general liability insurance, or post an equivalent bond, against claims arising out of activities conducted under the permit and to agree to hold the United States harmless against such claims.
The Sanctuary manager or superintendent may immediately amend, suspend, or revoke a special use permit granted pursuant to these guidelines and the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, in whole or in part, temporarily or indefinitely, if in his/her view the permittee(s) acted in violation of the terms of the special use permit or of applicable Sanctuary regulations, or for any good cause shown. Formal notice of such action shall be subsequently communicated in writing to the permittee and shall set forth the reason for the action taken. The special use permittee in relation to whom the action is taken may appeal the action as provided for in the Sanctuary regulations.
F. AMENDMENTS TO ACTIVE SPECIAL USE PERMITS
Requests for amendments to active special use permits (e.g. change in project design or location) must conform to these guidelines. Persons desiring to continue authorized activities in the Sanctuary must reapply for an extension of his/her current special use permit before it expires. Reference to the original application may be given in lieu of a new application, provided the scope of work does not change significantly and all relevant conditions have been met.
G. MONITORING PERFORMANCE
Authorized activities will be monitored to ensure compliance with the conditions of the special use permit. Sanctuary personnel may periodically assess work in progress by visiting the project location and observing any authorized activity or by reviewing any required reports. In most cases permittees will be required to monitor their own compliance with permit terms and conditions as well. Most special use permits have specific conditions that require permittees to monitor their activities and to submit monitoring reports to Sanctuary officials. The discovery of any irregularities in conformance to the special use permit shall be promptly reported and appropriate action shall be taken. Authorized activities will be evaluated and the findings used to evaluate future applications.
H. REPORTING BURDEN
Submittal of the information requested in these guidelines is required to obtain a permit pursuant to ONMS regulations (15 CFR Part 922). This data is to evaluate the potential benefits of the activity, determine whether the proposed methods will achieve the proposed results, evaluate any environmental impacts, and determine if issuance of a permit is appropriate. It is through this evaluation that the ONMS is able to use permitting to protect sanctuary resources and qualities.
Applicants are requested to indicate any information that is considered proprietary business information. Such information is typically exempt from disclosure to anyone requesting information pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). NOAA will make all possible attempts to protect such proprietary information, consistent with all applicable FOIA exemptions in 5 U.S.C. 552(b). Typically exempt information includes trade secrets, commercial and financial information (5 U.S.C. 552(b)(4)). Personal information affecting an individual's privacy will also be kept confidential consistent with 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(6).
Public reporting burden for this collection of information, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information is estimated to average one and a half (1.5) hours per response (e.g., initial application, cruise log, final report) except for the following situations:
- Twenty-four (24) hours per response for special use permits;
- Thirteen (13) hours per response for activities involving sanctuary historical resources;
- Fifteen (15) minutes per response for amendments to permits;
- Thirty (30) minutes per response for certification requests;
- Fifteen (15) minutes per response for voluntary registration; and
- Ninety (90) minutes per response for appeals of permit decisions.
Send comments regarding this burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to National Permit Coordinator, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, 1305 East-West Highway (N/ORM6), Silver Spring, Maryland, 20910.
Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act, unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB Control Number.
The OMB Control Number for this collection is 0648-0141 (expires December 31, 2011).
I. FURTHER INFORMATION
For further information on the ONMS, write or call the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary or the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries contact listed below:
|Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary||NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries|
|Permit Coordinator||National Permit Coordiator|
|99 Pacific Street, Bldg. 455A||1305 East-West Highway (N/ORM6)|
|Monterey, CA 93940||Silver Spring, MD 20910-3282|