Digest of Federal Resource Laws of Interest to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act

Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (Public Law 92-532; October 23, 1972; 86 Stat. 1052 and 1061. Titles I and II are codified at 33 U.S.C. 1401-1445. Title III is codified at 16 U.S.C. 1431-1445.) Amendments to Titles I (ocean dumping permit program) and II (ocean dumping research) include:

P.L.93-254; March 22, 1974; 88 Stat. 50; P.L.93-472; October 26, 1954; 88 Stat. 1430; P.L.94-62; July 25, 1975; 89 Stat. 303; P.L.94-326; June 30, 1976; 90 Stat. 725; P.L. 95-153; November 4, 1977; 91 Stat. 1255; P.L.96-381; October 6, 1980; 94 Stat. 2242; P.L.96-470; October 19, 1980; 94 Stat. 2245; P.L.96-572; December 22, 1980; 94 Stat. 3344; P.L.97-16; June 23, 1981; 95 Stat. 100; P.L.97-424; January 6, 1983; 96 Stat. 2165; P.L.99-272; April 7, 1986; 100 Stat. 131; P.L.99-499; October 17, 1986; 100 Stat. 79; P.L.99-662; November 17, 1986; 100 Stat. 4259; P.L. 100-4; February 4, 1987; 101 Stat. 79; P.L. 100-17; April 2, 1987; 101 Stat. 172; P.L. 100-536; October 28, 1988; 102 Stat. 2710; P.L. 100-627; November 7, 1988; 102 Stat. 3213; P.L. 100-688; November 18, 1988; 102 Stat. 4153; PL 102-580, title V, October 31, 1992, 106 Stat. 4870 and P.L. 104-303, October 12, 1996, 110 Stat. 3791.

Ocean Dumping -- Title I of the original Act authorized the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate ocean dumping of industrial wastes, sewage sludge, and other wastes through a permit program. A prohibition on medical waste was enacted in 1988 (P.L. 100-688).

The basic objective of the permit program is to "prevent or strictly limit the dumping into ocean waters of any material that would adversely affect human health, welfare, or amenities, or the marine environment, ecological systems, or economic potentialities." The Secretary of the Army is authorized to issue permits for dredged material disposal, and EPA is authorized to designate appropriate dump sites.

Dumping restrictions were enacted for both U.S. flag vessels and materials transported from a location outside the U.S. With respect to the latter category, dumping was prohibited within the U.S. territorial sea and the U.S. contiguous zone. A specific dumping prohibition was included for radiological, chemical and biological warfare agents, high-level radioactive waste and medical wastes. Restrictions have since been placed on dumping activities in the New York Bight Apex and the 106-mile site offshore of New Jersey.

Specific criteria for permit review were established and a prohibition was enacted for granting permits that would violate applicable water quality standards. In addition, EPA is required to consult with interested Federal and State agencies.

Public Law 97-424, enacted in 1983, placed a 2-year prohibition on ocean dumping of any low-level radioactive waste.

Public Law 100-688 terminated the dumping of sewage sludge and industrial waste (commencing with the 270th day after November 18, 1988) under certain conditions, and imposed a complete prohibition on dumping sewage sludge and industrial wastes after December 31, 1991. This law also provides EPA with authority to issue emergency permits for the dumping of industrial waste into ocean waters if an unacceptable human health risk exists and no other alternative is feasible.

Statutes authorizing appropriations to implement Title I were enacted annually through 1977 and, thereafter, in 1980, 1981, and 1988. The 1988 amendments authorized appropriations of $12 million for Title I for each of Fiscal Years 1989 through 1991.

The Service has been heavily involved in activities governed by section 103 of the Act, which covers the disposal of dredged material in the ocean, including the designation of sites. The Service is involved in both the review of proposed sites and public notices of permits for ocean dumping of dredged material. The permit program is subject to the provisions of the following:

Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, and section 404 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, including the 404(q) Memorandum of Agreement, relating to dispute resolution. The Service has been particularly involved in the New York Bight and the Mud Dump Site.

Public Law 102-580, Title V, October 31, 1992, 106 Stat. 4870 amended the law to allow the Administrator of the EPA to designate dumping sites and identify critical sites where dumping is not appropriate. The amendment also required the Secretary of Commerce to notify the Administrator when amending a dumping permit and limits the term of an issued permit to 7 years. The authorization for appropriations is extended through fiscal year 1991.

Public Law 104-303, October 12, 1996, 110 Stat. 3791 has an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act of 1996 that amends the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (33 U.S.C. 1412(c)(4)) to disallow permits for dumping off the coast of Newport Beach, CA.

Ocean Dumping Research & Monitoring -- Title II of the Act authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to coordinate a research and monitoring program with EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard. This program is designed as a long-term research program to study the "possible long-range effects of pollution, overfishing, and man-induced changes of ocean ecosystems." Similarly, EPA is authorized to conduct research regarding dumping alternatives and to consider, in cooperation with other Federal agencies, the feasibility of regional management plans for waste disposal in coastal areas. Congressional reports are required annually.

Statutes providing authority for appropriations were enacted in 1972, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1980, 1986 and 1988. Public Law 100-627 authorized appropriations of $13.5 million for Title II for Fiscal Year 1989, and $14.5 million for Fiscal Year 1990.

Marine Sanctuaries -- Amendments to Title III include:

P.L. 95-153; November 4, 1977; 91 Stat. 1255; P.L. 96-332; August 29, 1980; 94 Stat. 1057; P.L. 97-109; December 26, 1981; 95 Stat. 1512; P.L. 97-375; December 21, 1982; 96 Stat. 1822; P.L.98-498; October 19, 1984; 98 Stat. 2296; P.L.100-627; November 7, 1988; 102 Stat. 3217; P.L. 104-283, October 11, 1996, 110 Stat. 3363, 3364, 3367, 3368.

Originally, Title III of the Act, as enacted in 1972, authorized the Secretary of Commerce to designate national marine sanctuaries based on statutory criteria and stipulated factors to be considered by the Secretary as a basis for designation. Consultation requirements with various Federal agencies, Congressional committees, State agencies and regional fishery councils were also stipulated. The law also provided notice requirements and mandatory procedures pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.

Subsequent amendments (P.L.94-326, P.L.95-153, P.L.97-109, P.L. 96-332) extended the authorization for appropriations for these provisions.

The 1980 amendments (P.L.96-332) provide that any marine sanctuary designation will not be effective if, within 60 days of notice, the Governor of the affected State finds it unacceptable or if both houses of Congress adopt a concurrent resolution of disapproval. The Secretary of Commerce is authorized to withdraw the designation after any such State or Congressional disapproval. If the designation is not withdrawn, only the portion certified as acceptable can take effect.

In addition, P.L.96-332 authorized the Secretary of Commerce to issue "necessary and reasonable" regulations to implement the terms of the designation and to control necessary activities. Permits and licenses previously granted would continue to be valid. Enforcement activities between the Secretary of Commerce and the Coast Guard were authorized.

Public Law 100-627 amended the Act to require that notice of any proposed marine sanctuary be published in the Federal Register within 30 months of the site's classification as an active candidate. Various enforcement activities were also authorized, and appropriations for Title III of the Act were authorized for Fiscal Years 1989 through 1992 in three categories: general administration, management of designated sanctuaries, and site review and analysis.

Public Law 104-283, October 11, 1996, 110 Stat. 3363, 3364, 3367, 3368 reauthorizes the National Marine Sanctuaries Act through 1999. The law enhances support for the National Marine Sanctuaries, including incorporating Kahoolawe Island Waters into the Hawaiian Islands National Marine Sanctuary, amending the boundaries of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, and making other technical boundary corrections to existing sanctuaries. The bill also renames the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary as the Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

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