Laws & Regulations

Summary of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act

16 USC § 1431 et seq. and 33 USC §1401 et seq. (1988)

Titles I and II of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA), also referred to as the Ocean Dumping Act, generally prohibits (1) transportation of material from the United States for the purpose of ocean dumping; (2) transportation of material from anywhere for the purpose of ocean dumping by U.S. agencies or U.S.-flagged vessels; (3) dumping of material transported from outside the United States into the U.S. territorial sea. A permit is required to deviate from these prohibitions.

Under MPRSA, the standard for permit issuance is whether the dumping will "unreasonably degrade or endanger" human health, welfare, or the marine environment. EPA is charged with developing ocean dumping criteria to be used in evaluating permit applications. The MPRSA provisions administered by EPA are published in Title 33 of the U.S. Code. The MPRSA provisions that address marine sanctuaries are administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and are published in Title 16 of the U.S. Code.

Compliance and Enforcement

History of this Act

More Information 

The Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds (OWOW) works to protect our marine and fresh water ecosystems, including watersheds, coastal ecosystems and wetlands. OWOW regulates and monitors ocean dumping, manage dredged materials, and reduce marine debris.