Skip to main content
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary National Marine Sanctuaries Home Page National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Home Page

National Marine Sanctuaries Act


Congress created the National Marine Sanctuary System when it passed the National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA) in 1972—originally referred to as Title III of the Marine Protection, Research & Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA - Public Law 92-532, Oct. 23, 1972, 86 Stat. 1061).

The NMSA is currently codified in Title 16 of the United States Code, Chapter 32, Sections 1431 to 1445.

The purpose for the law was to conserve pristine ocean areas for future generations in the same manner that the nation has protected national parks and forests since the 19th century. The NMSA is the foundational document for the management of national marine sanctuaries, and it directs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to establish federal regulations to carry out the purposes of the act.

Learn more:



Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

Take Our Survey | Privacy Statement | Site Disclaimer
National Marine Sanctuaries | National Ocean Service | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration |