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Summary of MBNMS Prohibitions

Section 922.132 of the sanctuary regulations prohibits or restricts several activities in order to safeguard sanctuary resources. Some exceptions are allowed if specifically identified in the regulations.

Important Note: This web page provides a summary of regulatory prohibitions only. For a complete “official text" of MBNMS regulatory prohibitions, see Title 15, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 922.132 published by the U.S. Government Printing Office.


A brochure containing the following summary information is available for download in PDF format.

The following activities are prohibited within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and thus are unlawful for any person to conduct or to cause to be conducted:

1. Exploring for, developing or producing oil, gas or minerals
  • Except loose jade may be collected along Big Sur from the south end of Sand Dollar Beach to Cape San Martin between mean high tide and a depth of 90 feet. An individual may use a conventional boat, hand tool, and/or lift bag(s) with a combined lift capacity of up to 200 pounds, and collect only what that person can individually carry from the water.
2. Drilling, dredging or altering submerged lands; or placing or abandoning structures or matter on or in submerged lands
  • Except as incidental and necessary to anchoring, aquaculture, kelp harvesting, lawful fishing, jade collecting, installing authorized navigational aids, dock/pier construction, or authorized harbor maintenance.
3. Deserting a vessel aground, at anchor or adrift; or leaving harmful matter aboard a grounded or deserted vessel
4. Discharging or depositing any material or matter within or into the sanctuary (e.g. pollutants, trash, objects, etc.), or from outside the boundaries if it subsequently enters and injures the sanctuary
  • Fish, chumming materials or bait used in lawful fishing.
  • Clean water from anchor wash, bilges, deck wash, engine or generator cooling.
  • Clean effluent from Type I or II marine sanitation devices and clean graywater from small boats or 300 GRT vessels without sufficient sewage or graywater holding capacity.
  • Cruise ships may only discharge Clean water from anchor wash, engine or generator cooling water.
  • Federally permitted dredge material at approved disposal sites.
  • Federally permitted materials for beneficial use in habitat protection or restoration.
5. Taking, disturbing, injuring or possessing any sanctuary resource below 3,000 feet within the Davidson Seamount Management Zone
6. Introducing or releasing introduced species


  • Striped bass caught within the sanctuary.
  • Introduced species deemed non-invasive and ecologically harmless by NOAA and the State of California and authorized by both authorities for use in specified commercial shellfish aquaculture activities

Attracting any white shark, regardless of intent

  • Except for attraction due to the mere presence of human beings.

Disturbing, taking or possessing any marine mammal, sea turtle or bird within or above the sanctuary

  • Except as permitted by regulations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
9. Moving, removing, injuring or possessing historical resources
  • Except as incidental to lawful kelp harvesting, aquaculture, or fishing operations.
10. Flying motorized aircraft below 1,000 feet above sea level in any of the four NOAA regulated overflight zones specified in the regulations
  • Except as necessary for valid law enforcement purposes.
11. Operating motorized personal watercraft
  • Except within the five designated zones and access routes. Operation in Zone 5 at Pillar Point is allowed only when a High Surf Advisory is in effect for San Mateo County in December, January or February.
12. Interfering with enforcement
(e.g., an investigation, search or seizure connected with the National Marine Sanctuaries Act and regulations)


Recommended International Maritime Organization Vessel Tracks
(Not part of federal regulations)

In 2000, the International Maritime Organization adopted recommended shipping tracks through the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The purpose of the tracks was to guide coastal shipping along routes far enough from shore to allow for effective emergency response in the event of a mishap. Though the vessel tracks are not binding by federal law, failure to follow the recommendations subject ship operators to potential added liability should a vessel operating outside the tracks become involved in an incident that results in environmental harm.

Important Note: This web page provides a summary of regulatory prohibitions only. For a complete “official text" of MBNMS regulatory prohibitions, see Title 15, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 922.132 published by the U.S. Government Printing Office.