Governing and Management Documents

The National Marine Sanctuary Act authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to designate and protect areas of the marine environment with special national significance due to their conservation, recreational, ecological, historical, scientific, cultural, archeological, educational, or esthetic qualities as national marine sanctuaries.

The Hawaiian Islands National Marine Sanctuary Act designated the sanctuary in 1992 and requires the Secretary of Commerce to develop a comprehensive management plan with implementing regulations to govern the overall management of the site and to protect sanctuary resources and qualities.

The implementing regulations are intended to supplement and complement existing regulatory authorities; to facilitate to the extent compatible with the primary objective of protecting the humpback whale and its habitat, all public and private uses of the Sanctuary, including uses of Hawaiian natives customarily and traditionally exercised for subsistence, cultural, and religious purposes, as well as education, research, recreation, commercial and military activities; to reduce conflicts between compatible uses; to maintain, restore, and enhance the humpback whale and its habitat; to contribute to the maintenance of natural assemblages of humpback whales for future generations.  The regulations also define the boundaries of the Sanctuary and detail certain activities prohibited in the sanctuary (e.g., It is illegal to pursue humpback whales or approach them closer than 100 yards).

The Compact Agreement was made between the State of Hawaii and NOAA for the purpose of clarifying the relative jurisdiction, authority, and conditions of the State-NOAA partnership for managing the Sanctuary. It clarifies the State’s continuing authority and jurisdiction over its State waters, submerged lands, and other resources within the Sanctuary. The Compact further establishes provisions with respect to NOAA’s collaboration with the State of Hawaii on Sanctuary management issues.

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