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

Do I Need A Permit?

A permit is required when an individual wishes to conduct an activity within a sanctuary that is otherwise prohibited. Common Activities that Require a MBNMS Permit are listed below. Guidance on how to apply for a sanctuary permit can be found on this page.

Permits may be issued by the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) Superintendent under special circumstances for activities otherwise prohibited by Sanctuary regulations when related to: research to enhance scientific understanding of the Sanctuary environment or to improve management decision-making; or education to further public awareness, understanding, and to establish access, use, and/or understanding of Sanctuary resources and wise use of the Sanctuary environment. MBNMS strives to promote research and education, while minimizing any environmental impacts. Obtaining permits for prohibited activities in the Sanctuary is part of this process.

Sanctuary Prohibitions

If your proposed activity includes any prohibited action, a permit is likely required. For more information see:

A description of what may occur for a violation of prohibitied activities without a valid National Marine Sanctuary permit is provided in the Enforcement Program section.

How to Apply

For most proposed activities, a NMS permit application must be completed. A single application can be submitted for activities that span more than one sanctuary. Instructions, application forms, and related information can be found here:


Where to Apply

Submit a completed application to:

Kacy Cooper

99 Pacific Street, Bldg 455A
Monterey, CA 93940
Phone: 831-647-1286
FAX: 831-647-4250


Common Activities that Require a MBNMS Permit

Below is a list of common activities that require permits and approval. Keep in mind this is not a complete list so carefully evaluate your proposed activity, or contact permitting staff.

Authorization Permit Activities:

  • Construction
  • Seawall maintenance
  • Operation of equipment on beaches
  • Discharges

Education Permit Activities:

  • Filming operations
  • Placement of equipment on seafloor
  • Sediment collection
  • Collection of live rock
  • Overflights

Fireworks Permit Activities:

  • Conducting a fireworks display in an area that will result in a discharge of pyrotechnic materials into the sanctuary

Overflight Permit Activities:

  • Flying below 1000-feet within a NOAA Regulated Overflight Zone

Research Permit Activities:

  • Quadrat bolts
  • Sediment collection
  • Rock removal
  • Trawling for research purposes
  • Instrumentation or equipment on seafloor
  • Moorings and buoys
  • Discharge (e.g., dyes, AUVs, XBTs, matter)
  • Overflights
  • Attracting white sharks
  • Davidson Seamount Management Zone collection

Special Use Permit Activities:

  • Dispersal of human ashes
  • Overflights
  • Temporary placement of objects for public events
  • Temporary placement of objects for motion pictures
  • Commercial submarine cables

Additional permits from other local, State, and Federal management agencies may be required in addition to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

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 |