[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 114 (Friday, June 13, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 33851-33860]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-13807]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

15 CFR Part 922

[Docket No. 130405334-3717-02]
RIN 0648-BD20


Re-Establishing the Sanctuary Nomination Process

AGENCY: Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), National Ocean 
Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 
Department of Commerce (DOC).

ACTION: Final rule and call for nominations.

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SUMMARY: With this final rule, NOAA re-establishes the process by which 
communities may submit applications to have NOAA consider nominations 
of areas of the marine and Great Lakes environments as national marine 
sanctuaries. Communities, in this context, are defined as a collection 
of interested individuals or groups (e.g., a friends of group, a 
chamber of commerce); local, tribal, state, or national agencies; 
elected officials; or topic-based stakeholder groups, at the local, 
regional or national level (e.g., a local chapter of an environmental 
organization, a regionally-based fishing group, a national-level 
recreation or tourism organization, academia or science-based group, or 
an industry association). Through this nomination process, NOAA is 
seeking to give communities an opportunity to identify special marine 
and Great Lakes areas they believe would benefit from designation as a 
national marine sanctuary. There is no requirement for who may nominate 
an area for consideration; however, nominations should demonstrate 
broad support from a variety of stakeholders and interested parties. 
This rule contains the criteria and considerations NOAA will use to 
evaluate national marine sanctuary nominations, describes the process 
for submitting national marine sanctuary nominations, and promulgates 
the regulations necessary to implement this action. If NOAA determines 
a nomination adequately meets the final criteria and considerations, it 
may place that nomination into an inventory of areas for the NOAA 
Administrator, as delegated from the Secretary of Commerce, to consider 
for designation as a national marine sanctuary. As such, NOAA is not 
designating any new national marine sanctuaries with this action. In 
issuing this rule, NOAA replaces the currently inactive Site Evaluation 
List with a new process for communities and other interested parties to 
work collaboratively and innovatively in their submission of national 
marine sanctuary nominations. The re-opening of the sanctuary 
nomination process was supported by the majority of the nearly 18,000 
comments NOAA received on its proposed rule issued June 28, 2013.

DATES: This final rule is effective on July 14, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit nominations to NOAA by any one of the 
following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit nomination packages to 
sanctuary.nominations@noaa.gov.
     Mail: Director, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, 
1305 East-West

[[Page 33852]]

Highway, 11th Floor, Silver Spring, MD 20910.
    All nomination packages will be posted in full upon submission to 
NOAA at www.nominate.noaa.gov. Do not submit confidential business, 
personal, sensitive, or protected information in a nomination. Personal 
information within all nominations will be kept confidential consistent 
with 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(6).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: 
     For general questions regarding the sanctuary nomination 
process, please contact Matt Brookhart, Chief, Policy & Planning 
Division, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, 1305 East-West 
Highway, 11th Floor, Silver Spring, MD 20910, matt.brookhart@noaa.gov.
     For specific interest in nominating areas off Maine to 
North Carolina, or the Great Lakes, contact Reed Bohne, Northeast and 
Great Lakes Regional Director, NOAA Office of National Marine 
Sanctuaries, 10 Ocean Science Circle, Savannah, GA 31411, 
reed.bohne@noaa.gov.
     For specific interest in nominating areas off South 
Carolina to Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, or the Caribbean, contact 
Billy Causey, Ph.D., Southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean 
Regional Director, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, 33 East 
Quay Road, Key West, FL 33040, billy.causey@noaa.gov.
     For specific interest in nominating areas off California 
to Alaska, contact William Douros, West Coast Regional Director, NOAA 
Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, 99 Pacific Street, Suite 100F, 
Monterey, CA 93940, william.douros@noaa.gov.
     For specific interest in nominating areas in the Pacific 
Islands, contact Allen Tom, Pacific Islands Regional Director, NOAA 
Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, 726 South Kihei Road, Kihei 
(Maui), HI 96753, allen.tom@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Electronic Access

    This Federal Register document is also accessible via the Internet 
at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su-docs/aces/aces140.html.

I. Background

    The National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA or Act, 16 U.S.C. 1431 et 
seq.) authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to identify and designate as 
national marine sanctuaries areas of the marine environment, including 
the Great Lakes, which are of special national significance; to manage 
these areas as the National Marine Sanctuary System (System); and to 
provide for the comprehensive and coordinated conservation and 
management of these areas and the activities affecting them in a manner 
which complements existing regulatory authorities. Section 303 of the 
NMSA provides national marine sanctuary designation standards and 
factors required in determining whether an area qualifies for 
consideration as a potential national marine sanctuary, and section 304 
establishes procedures for national marine sanctuary designation and 
implementation. Regulations implementing the NMSA and each national 
marine sanctuary are codified in Part 922 of Title 15 of the Code of 
Federal Regulations (CFR).
    NOAA developed its first formal process for identifying and 
evaluating sites for consideration as national marine sanctuaries, 
known as the List of Recommended Areas (LRA), in the late 1970s (44 FR 
44831). In 1983, NOAA replaced the LRA with the Site Evaluation List 
(SEL) (48 FR 24295). As defined in NOAA regulations at 15 CFR 922.3, 
the SEL was a list of natural and historical marine resource sites 
selected by the Secretary as qualifying for further evaluation for 
possible designation as national marine sanctuaries. The SEL was 
initially developed by regional review panels comprised of marine 
scientists associated with regionally-specific academic institutions or 
marine management authorities, and was intended to be reviewed and 
updated by NOAA every five years. When it was published in 1983, the 
SEL included 29 sites (48 FR 35568), four of which were subsequently 
designated as national marine sanctuaries: Flower Garden Banks (1991), 
Stellwagen Bank (1992), Western Washington Outer Coast (renamed Olympic 
Coast, 1994), and Thunder Bay (2000) national marine sanctuaries (NMS). 
The list of sites on the 1983 SEL can be found at http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/management/fr/48_fr_35569.pdf.
    When the Site Evaluation List was established, the criteria for 
nominating areas to the list focused primarily on the natural resource 
qualities that made an area eligible for national marine sanctuary 
designation (48 FR 35568). The Marine Sanctuaries Amendments Act of 
1984 (Pub. L. 98-496) added historical, research and educational 
qualities to the list of designation criteria. In 1988, NOAA issued a 
final rule (53 FR 43801) reflecting these amendments and, in 1989, 
announced it would consider new sites for the SEL consistent with these 
revised criteria (54 FR 53432). Ultimately, no new sites were added to 
the 1983 SEL.
    In 1995, the ONMS Director deactivated the SEL (60 FR 66875) to 
focus on management of the existing twelve national marine sanctuaries, 
including expanding community engagement (the designation process for 
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which was completed in 2000, 
began before deactivation of the SEL). Since then, ONMS has focused 
primarily on maturing management at the existing national marine 
sanctuaries through comprehensive management plan review, 
characterization of site resources, partnership building, and 
operational growth. At the same time, public interest in the 
designation of new national marine sanctuaries has grown. A variety of 
individuals, local, state, tribal governments, Congressional 
representatives, academic institutions, citizen groups, and non-
government organizations from around the country have requested NOAA, 
the Department of Commerce, and the President to consider designating 
specific areas as new national marine sanctuaries. These requests often 
reference the many and diverse benefits communities realize from a 
national marine sanctuary, including: Meaningful protection of 
nationally significant marine resources; significant social and 
economic benefits from expanded travel, tourism, and recreation, as 
well as ocean-related jobs; increased opportunity for, and access to, 
federal research focused on local marine resources; education programs 
to promote ocean literacy, sustainable uses, and stewardship; and 
community-driven problem solving for a myriad of ocean issues.
    NOAA considered re-establishing the sanctuary nomination process in 
the context of both the active community interest and the overall 
maturing of the System over the past two decades, including lessons 
learned from previous nomination processes. On June 28, 2013, NOAA 
issued a proposed rule to re-establish the sanctuary nomination process 
(78 FR 38848) and requested public comment on: (1) The completeness and 
utility of twelve draft criteria for evaluating areas of the marine 
environment as possible new national marine sanctuaries; (2) NOAA's 
proposed process steps for receiving sanctuary nominations; and (3) 
proposed amendments to ONMS regulations. This final rule addresses the 
nearly 18,000 comments NOAA received on the proposed rule (see section 
VI), and finalizes the criteria, management considerations, and process 
to nominate areas of the marine and Great Lakes environments for 
potential addition to the inventory of

[[Page 33853]]

areas that may be considered for future designation as a national 
marine sanctuary. The final step of the sanctuary nomination process is 
addition to the inventory.
    NOAA is not designating any new national marine sanctuaries with 
this action. Any designations resulting from the nomination process 
would be conducted by NOAA as a separate process, and within the public 
participation standards enacted by the NMSA and National Environmental 
Policy Act. NOAA will follow all standards and requirements identified 
in the NMSA when, in the future, it considers a nomination for 
designation.

II. Description of Action

    The purpose of this final rulemaking is to:
    (1) Provide public notice that NOAA has re-opened the public 
process to nominate areas of the marine and Great Lakes environments 
for consideration as national marine sanctuaries;
    (2) Provide the final criteria and considerations NOAA will use to 
evaluate new national marine sanctuary nominations for inclusion in an 
inventory of areas that may be considered for future designation as 
national marine sanctuaries;
    (3) Describe the process by which areas are nominated and evaluated 
by NOAA for potential inclusion in an inventory of areas that may be 
considered in the future as national marine sanctuaries; and
    (4) Identify changes to various sections of the ONMS regulations at 
15 CFR part 922.
    The sanctuary nomination process will focus on nominations 
generated collaboratively by communities (as defined above) and 
coalitions of interested parties. It will replace the currently 
inactive Site Evaluation List, which tended towards an agency-driven, 
top-down approach, with a more grassroots, bottom-up approach to 
national marine sanctuary nominations. NOAA is not considering 
evaluation of sites from the deactivated Site Evaluation List. The 
public may re-nominate sites from the deactivated Site Evaluation List, 
per the final evaluation criteria, and resubmit these areas for NOAA's 
consideration.
    NOAA will begin accepting new nominations following the effective 
date of this final rule, and in accordance with collection-of-
information requirements under OMB control number 0648-0682 (see 
Section VIII, B below for a full discussion of Paperwork Reduction Act 
requirements).

III. Nomination Criteria and Considerations

    In its June 2013 proposed rule, NOAA asked the public to comment on 
twelve criteria for nominating areas as possible national marine 
sanctuaries. The twelve proposed criteria were based on national marine 
sanctuary designation standards in section 303(b) of the NMSA. Many of 
the public comments included suggestions on how to further refine the 
criteria to be more useful or operational in the nomination phase. The 
comments included broad suggestions for more detail, suggestions 
specific to one or more of the proposed criteria, suggestions on which 
criteria to emphasize, and suggestions that some of the proposed 
criteria did not fit the definition of criteria and would be better 
described as ``considerations.'' NOAA also received comments asking for 
more information on whether there would be a minimum number of criteria 
that an area would need to meet to be accepted into the inventory.
    Based on these comments, NOAA developed four final criteria to 
evaluate the national significance of a nomination, and seven 
considerations for management of the area as a national marine 
sanctuary. These national significance criteria and management 
considerations remain consistent with the designation standards in 
section 303(b) of the NMSA while providing more specificity and clarity 
for nominating communities. While NOAA is not establishing a minimum 
number of national significance criteria, nor giving greater 
significance to any particular criterion, the strongest nominations 
will provide a clear connection and focus on the criteria most relevant 
to the goal and intent for the nominated area, and provide as much 
information as possible for those criteria. Nominations should provide 
information addressing all seven management considerations, with 
special emphasis on consideration 7, describing community-
based support. Nominations will not be judged against each other with 
regard to completeness or robustness of criteria and considerations. 
NOAA's final evaluation will be based on a qualitative analysis of a 
nomination's ability to demonstrate the relevant national significance 
criteria and management considerations; the agency will not apply a 
numerical value or score to any nomination.

A. National Significance Criteria

    (1) The area's natural resources and ecological qualities are of 
special significance and contribute to: Biological productivity or 
diversity; maintenance or enhancement of ecosystem structure and 
function; maintenance of ecologically or commercially important species 
or species assemblages; maintenance or enhancement of critical habitat, 
representative biogeographic assemblages, or both; or maintenance or 
enhancement of connectivity to other ecologically significant 
resources.
    (2) The area contains submerged maritime heritage resources of 
special historical, cultural, or archaeological significance, that: 
Individually or collectively are consistent with the criteria of 
eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places; 
\1\ have met or which would meet the criteria for designation as a 
National Historic Landmark; or have special or sacred meaning to the 
indigenous people of the region or nation.
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    \1\ Source, 36 CFR Section 60.4: The National Register of 
Historic Places evaluation criteria are for resources:
    (a) That are associated with events that have made a significant 
contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or
    (b) that are associated with the lives of significant persons in 
our past; or
    (c) the embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, 
period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a 
master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a 
significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack 
individual distinction; or
    (d) that have yielded or may likely yield, information important 
in history or prehistory.
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    (3) The area supports present and potential economic uses, such as: 
Tourism; commercial and recreational fishing; subsistence and 
traditional uses; diving; and other recreational uses that depend on 
conservation and management of the area's resources.
    (4) The publicly-derived benefits of the area, such as aesthetic 
value, public recreation, and access to places depend on conservation 
and management of the area's resources.

B. Management Considerations

    (1) The area provides or enhances opportunities for research in 
marine science, including marine archaeology.
    (2) The area provides or enhances opportunities for education, 
including the understanding and appreciation of the marine and Great 
Lakes environments.
    (3) Adverse impacts from current or future uses and activities 
threaten the area's significance, values, qualities, and resources.
    (4) A national marine sanctuary would provide unique conservation 
and management value for this area or adjacent areas.
    (5) The existing regulatory and management authorities for the area

[[Page 33854]]

could be supplemented or complemented to meet the conservation and 
management goals for the area.
    (6) There are commitments or possible commitments for partnership 
opportunities such as cost sharing, office space, exhibit space, vessel 
time, or other collaborations to aid conservation or management 
programs for the area.
    (7) There is community-based support for the nomination expressed 
by a broad range of interests, such as: Individuals or locally-based 
groups (e.g., friends of group, chamber of commerce); local, tribal, 
state, or national agencies; elected officials; or topic-based 
stakeholder groups, at the local, regional or national level (e.g., a 
local chapter of an environmental organization, a regionally-based 
fishing group, a national-level recreation or tourism organization, 
academia or science-based group, or an industry association).

IV. Process for Submission and Evaluation of Nominations

    In its June 2013 proposed rule, NOAA requested comments on the 
proposed process for submitting and evaluating nominations. In general, 
commenters requested NOAA provide more detail about the process, 
including how the agency would make decisions on nominated areas and 
timelines for review. NOAA has developed its final process based on how 
the agency currently anticipates implementation of the review process. 
If this process evolves over time, NOAA will notify the public of 
changes to the review process. NOAA anticipates its review process of a 
nomination will take between three to six months, although additional 
time may be required for review of more complex nominations. The final 
nomination process is summarized in the following six steps:
    Step 1) Nomination Development. The nomination process begins with 
a community-based development of a nomination. There is no requirement 
for who may nominate an area for consideration; however, nominations 
should demonstrate broad support from variety of stakeholders and 
interested parties. The nomination should also identify the specific 
goal or intent for nominating a national marine sanctuary. Any 
nomination must provide the information necessary to adequately address 
the national significance criteria relevant to the nominator's goal for 
nominating (and ultimately designating) that area as a national marine 
sanctuary, as well as information for all of the management 
considerations.
    Step 2) Nomination Submission. The formal request for national 
marine sanctuary consideration occurs when the nominator formally 
submits a nomination to NOAA. The nomination should include a specific 
point of contact. There is no required form for the nominations; 
however, to guide nominators, NOAA has posted a nomination guide on the 
ONMS Web site (www.nominate.noaa.gov). The maximum length for a 
nomination is not to exceed 25 pages, including attachments. All 
nominations will be made publicly available in their entirety on the 
ONMS Web site. Do not submit confidential business, personal, 
sensitive, or protected information in a nomination. Personal 
information within all nominations will be kept confidential consistent 
with 5 U.S.C. 552 and other federal laws. NOAA encourages nominators to 
contact NOAA if there are questions about what to include or what will 
be posted online. The nominator shall not deliver any copyrighted 
information without first acquiring for or granting to the Government a 
copyright license for the information. There are no deadlines for 
submission of nominations while the nomination process is open. NOAA 
encourages electronic submissions be sent to 
Sanctuary.Nominations@noaa.gov, but will accept paper applications by 
mail as well. All nominations should be addressed to: Director, NOAA 
Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. The mailing address is 1305 East 
West Highway, SSMC4 11th Floor, Silver Spring, MD 20910.
    Step 3) Sufficiency Review. Once NOAA receives a nomination, the 
agency will review it for sufficiency against the national significance 
criteria and management considerations. This initial review will 
determine if the nomination has enough information for NOAA to 
adequately conduct a subsequent, more detailed review based on the 
significance criteria and management considerations. NOAA will strive 
to complete its sufficiency review within thirty (30) days of receiving 
a nomination. Once complete, NOAA will inform the nominator that either 
the nomination is moving to the next stage of review, or additional 
information is needed to complete the nomination. In some cases, NOAA 
may determine that a nomination is insufficient and will decline the 
nomination. In those cases, NOAA will provide the nominator with a 
letter of rationale in support of its decision to decline the 
nomination. The letter of rationale will also be posted on NOAA's 
nomination Web site. A nominator may resubmit a revised nomination for 
an area that has been declined by the agency.
    Step 4) National Significance Review. Nominations NOAA determines 
to be sufficient will then be reviewed against the national 
significance criteria identified in Section III.A of this final rule. 
NOAA will strive to complete the national significance review within 
thirty (30) days of the nomination being determined to be sufficient. 
When necessary, NOAA may conduct an external peer review to provide 
additional expertise on a nomination's ability to meet the national 
significance criteria. Any external review is expected to add thirty 
(30) days to the review timeline. The composition of the external peer 
review group will be based on the expertise needed for that nomination. 
There will not be a standing review group and each reviewer will 
provide their own recommendation. NOAA will not seek a consensus 
recommendation from any peer review group. The outcomes of the external 
peer review, if needed, will be considered in NOAA's determination of 
the national significance of the nominated area. Once its review is 
complete, NOAA will notify the nominator of one of the three possible 
outcomes: (1) The nomination moves on to the next step of review; (2) 
NOAA requires additional information to determine the nominated area 
meets the national significance criteria; or (3) the nomination does 
not meet the national significance criteria and is declined with a 
letter of rationale.
    Step 5) Management Review. Nominations NOAA determines to meet the 
national significance criteria will then be reviewed against the 
management considerations identified in Section III.B of this final 
rule. NOAA will strive to complete its management review after thirty 
(30) days of the nomination being determined to be nationally 
significant. NOAA will discuss the nomination with interested tribal or 
state governments during this review when the area is in proximity to 
tribal or state lands. Similarly, NOAA will discuss the nomination with 
Federal land managers in proximity to the nominated area. Any tribal, 
state, or Federal coordination is expected to add additional time to 
NOAA's review. NOAA encourages nominators to coordinate with relevant 
tribal and state governments, and relevant Federal land managers, 
before a nomination is submitted. Upon completion of the management 
review, NOAA will notify the nominator of one of three possible 
outcomes: (1) The nomination moves on to the next step; (2) NOAA 
requires additional information to determine the

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nominated area meets the management considerations; or (3) the 
nomination does not meet the management considerations and is declined 
with a letter of rationale.
    Step 6) Acceptance to Inventory. Nominations that the ONMS Director 
deems to have successfully completed the reviews for sufficiency, 
national significance, and management considerations will be added to a 
standing inventory of areas NOAA could consider for national marine 
sanctuary designation. NOAA will send a letter of notification to the 
nominator, and then publish a Federal Register notice when an area has 
been added to the inventory. The inventory and notification letters 
will also be posted on the ONMS Web site. If NOAA takes no designation 
action on a nomination in the inventory, the nomination will expire 
after five years from the time it is accepted to the inventory.
    Addition to the inventory is the last step in the nomination 
process. NOAA is not designating any new national marine sanctuaries 
with this action. Any designations resulting from the nomination 
process would be conducted by NOAA as a separate process, and within 
the public participation standards enacted by the NMSA and National 
Environmental Policy Act. NOAA will follow all designation standards 
and requirements identified in the NMSA when, in the future, it 
considers a nomination for designation.
    Nominations will be reviewed in the order they are received by 
NOAA. During the development of a nomination, ONMS staff may answer 
questions on the criteria, considerations, process, or other general 
questions about national marine sanctuaries. Although not mandatory, 
NOAA encourages nominators to contact their respective ONMS Regional 
Directors at the address or email above for clarification on any 
questions relative to a nomination proposal. While NOAA is able to 
provide clarity and guidance on the criteria and considerations, it is 
the nominator's responsibility to research, write, and develop 
nominations.
    If NOAA needs additional information during the nomination process, 
a request will be sent to the nominator, either by email, phone, or 
letter. The nominator should provide the requested information, or an 
estimate of additional time required to prepare the information, to the 
NOAA point of contact within thirty (30) days. If a response has not 
been received from the nominator within thirty (30) days, the 
nomination will be deemed withdrawn, and no further action will be 
taken on the nomination by NOAA. In those cases, the nominator may 
resubmit a nomination to NOAA for reconsideration.

V. Regulatory Amendments

    In this rulemaking, NOAA revises 15 CFR 922.10 to codify it is 
accepting nominations for potential national marine sanctuary 
designation, and providing the criteria and considerations it will use 
to evaluate nominations. NOAA is also:
     Replacing the definition of the Site Evaluation List with 
a definition of ``Inventory'' in 15 CFR sections 922.3; and
     replacing references to the Site Evaluation List with 
references to the Inventory in 15 CFR sections 922.3 and 922.21(a).

Note that, through a separate rulemaking dated January 28, 2013 (78 FR 
5998), NOAA proposed to revise regulations regarding the Site 
Evaluation List as part of a comprehensive regulatory review pursuant 
to Executive Order 13563. In that rulemaking, NOAA proposed to delete 
paragraph 922.10(c). That proposal is no longer necessary due to this 
rulemaking and NOAA will remove these references when that rulemaking 
is made final.

VI. Response to Public Comments

    1. Comment: The vast majority of the commenters supported the re-
establishment of the sanctuary nomination process, stating it is an 
important first step toward filling gaps in ocean and Great Lakes 
protection. Many also commented that after 13 years with no new 
national marine sanctuary designations, a process to nominate new 
national marine sanctuaries is warranted. These commenters cited a 
number of reasons for support of new national marine sanctuaries, 
including general environmental protection, management of climate 
change, enhancing the value of coastal and ocean economies through 
recreation and tourism, and the community-based nature of the 
nomination process proposed by NOAA. Many of these commenters were also 
concerned about potential impact to the marine environment from oil and 
gas activities, and the role new national marine sanctuaries could play 
in helping to mitigate negative impacts.
    Response: NOAA concurs, and believes it is appropriate to move 
forward with re-establishing the sanctuary nomination process.
    2. Comment: Several commenters argued that the criteria lacked 
completeness and utility (e.g., were incomplete, too general, not 
appropriate, or not quantitative enough). Some commenters cautioned 
that the proposed criteria were too broad and would result in many 
underqualified nominations.
    Response: NOAA has taken these comments into consideration to 
provide more clear and robust criteria that are a logical outgrowth of 
the twelve criteria put forward in the proposed rule. NOAA agrees that 
there were distinctions of use and applicability among the proposed 
twelve criteria, and with this final rule, has refined the language of 
the criteria and made their application more manageable by reorganizing 
related criteria into two categories--national significance criteria 
and management considerations. The refined criteria and considerations 
are consistent with, and do not change substantively, those listed in 
the proposed rule, but address public comments requesting that NOAA 
provide more clarity and specificity regarding the nomination 
standards. NOAA anticipates that the national significance and 
management categories will facilitate the submission of new national 
marine sanctuaries. The national significance criteria focus on whether 
an area is considered a special place worthy of Federal protection by 
addressing the ecological value, historical significance, economic 
uses, and publically-derived benefits of the area. The management 
considerations provide a more specific interpretation of the relevant 
NMSA Section 303(b) designation standards, such as explicit recognition 
of partnership opportunities and specific definition of groups that 
could be included in the community supporting the nomination. NOAA 
describes in Section IV how it will use these two categories in the 
review process for evaluating nominations.
    3. Comment: One commenter suggested that NOAA should remove the 
criteria that measures economic impact.
    Response: The NMSA requires NOAA consider the economic benefits and 
impacts of the present and potential uses of national marine 
sanctuaries (NMSA Section 303(b)(1)(I)). Sustaining local economies 
that rely on a healthy marine environment is an important goal at all 
national marine sanctuaries. NOAA cannot therefore remove this 
statutorily required criteria.
    4. Comment: Commenters asked NOAA to include consideration and 
recognition of the importance of waterborne commerce in the designated 
area.
    Response: NOAA believes the final rule includes the criteria 
necessary for

[[Page 33856]]

considering compatible uses of national marine sanctuaries, including 
waterborne commerce. NOAA recognizes the vital importance of waterborne 
commerce, not only to communities but to the Nation and a vibrant 
economy.
    5. Comment: Commenters suggested that the core criteria should be 
protection of natural resources, ecological qualities, and areas of 
historical, cultural, archaeological, or paleontological significance.
    Response: The final criteria focus first on the national 
significance of a nominated area's biological and cultural resources, 
and which includes the considerations mentioned by the commenters. 
National marine sanctuaries are designated with the primary purpose of 
resource protection, and the value added to both local communities and 
the Nation, and any new national marine sanctuary designation would be 
considered within this context.
    6. Comment: Commenters asked NOAA to ensure a criterion includes 
maintenance of endangered species and their critical habitat.
    Response: The final national significance criteria include a 
provision that takes into account the value of an area in maintaining 
endangered species and their habitat. Consideration of endangered 
species and their habitat is also required under the Endangered Species 
Act.
    7. Comment: Several commenters asked NOAA to consider the balance 
between protecting the health of the proposed area while providing 
access to and use of that area.
    Response: The final national significance criteria recognize the 
significance of an area's natural and cultural resources, as well as 
its economic, use, and aesthetic values. Furthermore, the management 
considerations provide nominators the opportunity to identify the 
existing or potential management values of an area, and how those 
values may support a national marine sanctuary.
    8. Comment: Several commenters suggested that the proposed rule did 
not provide the public with a good sense for how the criteria would be 
applied in deciding which nominations will be moved toward national 
marine sanctuary designation. Some commenters asked if there was a 
threshold or standard for each criterion.
    Response: Consistent with the criteria in the proposed rule, NOAA 
has based the final criteria on section 303(b) of the NMSA. However, 
NOAA has refined the final criteria to be more operational in 
determining national significance and manageability, and in doing so 
believes the national significance criteria and management 
considerations set clear standards for nominating and evaluating an 
area as a national marine sanctuary. When appropriate, NOAA will 
conduct a third party external peer review to further evaluate a 
nomination's ability to meet the final criteria and considerations. 
Nominations will not be judged against each other with regard to 
completeness or robustness of criteria. NOAA's final evaluation will be 
based on a qualitative analysis of a nomination's ability to 
demonstrate the relevant national significance criteria and management 
considerations; the agency will not apply a numerical value or score to 
any nomination.
    9. Comment: Several commenters asked NOAA to define the number of 
criteria that need to be met in order to have a successful nomination, 
and how those criteria will be measured. Commenters also asked NOAA if 
there were mandatory and optional criteria, and how the criteria relate 
to each other.
    Response: There is no minimum number of national significance 
criteria a nominator needs to meet for a successful nomination. NOAA 
encourages nominations to include information on all of the criteria 
relevant to the specific goals and intent a nominator has for an area. 
Nominations with high maritime heritage value, for example, may require 
less or no information on the natural resource criteria. Similarly, 
NOAA is not requiring nominations with high natural resource value to 
declare or define high maritime heritage value if that value does not 
exist. Nominations with both high natural resource and maritime 
heritage value should, however, include information on both qualities. 
The strongest nominations will have a clear sense of all the national 
significance criteria relevant to that area, and provide as much 
information as possible for those criteria. Nominations should provide 
information addressing all seven management considerations, with 
special emphasis on consideration 7 describing community-based 
support. NOAA encourages nominators to contact their respective ONMS 
Regional Directors at the address or email above for clarification on 
any questions relative to a nomination proposal.
    10. Comment: Several commenters requested NOAA ensure the criteria 
consider the current management structure and level of protection for 
the area proposed.
    Response: NOAA recognized this issue in the proposed rule and has 
also included it in the final rule under management consideration 
5 (``The existing regulatory and management authorities for 
the area could be supplemented or complemented to meet the conservation 
and management goals for the area.'').
    11. Comment: Several commenters believed that the proposed process 
for evaluating nominations was incomplete and did not provide the 
public with a clear indication of how NOAA would proceed once it 
received nominations. They believed that several questions remained 
unanswered by the proposed regulations, including: who will make a 
decision on the nomination; how will the process be transparent; and 
how other agencies and regional fishery management councils are to be 
involved.
    Response: NOAA has provided significant detail on the process for 
submitting national marine sanctuary nominations in section IV of the 
final rule, including what actions will occur at each of the six steps, 
possible outcomes of the process, opportunities for nominators to 
discuss the process with NOAA, and that the ONMS Director will 
determine at the end of the review if a nomination is accepted into the 
inventory. NOAA will also include this and additional details on the 
ONMS Web site. Other federal agencies and the regional fishery 
management councils may choose to include themselves as part of the 
nomination of a new national marine sanctuary. If in the future NOAA 
decides to begin designation for a nomination in the inventory, the 
NMSA defines the specific coordination and consultation requirements 
ONMS must follow with other Federal agencies and the respective 
regional fishery management councils.
    12. Comment: Some commenters indicated that certain interested 
parties may not have the capacity to develop a nomination or have 
access to the information necessary to clearly demonstrate the criteria 
or management considerations. They asked if NOAA could provide 
technical services, assistance, or financial support for nomination 
development.
    Response: NOAA may engage in discussion with communities as they 
develop and revise their nominations to provide informational 
assistance or recommendations. In some instances, the agency may be 
able to provide some technical services, but does anticipate providing 
any financial support. It will be the responsibility of the nominators 
to acquire and synthesize the information necessary to develop their 
nomination.
    13. Comment: Several commenters were concerned that if sites were

[[Page 33857]]

``weighted'' in value, that those focusing solely on historic and 
cultural resources would not score as high as those which also include 
ecological values, and that the process would be inherently biased 
against cultural resource nominations. These reviewers suggested 
constructing two separate review processes; one for nominating 
ecologically-focused national marine sanctuaries and the other for 
maritime heritage-focused national marine sanctuaries, so that these 
nominations are not weighed against each other.
    Response: NOAA will not be scoring the nominations individually or 
against each other, and will be looking at the merits of each 
nomination relative to the nominators' specific intent for their 
respective nomination and the relevant criteria. Per the NMSA, the 
final criteria recognize both biological and cultural resources as 
under consideration for possible national marine sanctuary designation. 
See NOAA's response to comment 9 above for additional 
information on how a nominator should consider the resources of their 
nomination.
    14. Comment: Several commenters indicated they would like more 
transparency in the evaluation process once a nomination is received. 
They also suggested that NOAA develop and provide a timeline.
    Response: Based on these comments, NOAA has revised its final 
criteria, management considerations, and process to provide more 
transparency and clarity. With regard to a timeline, the final rule 
indicates that NOAA will strive to complete the review process in 90 to 
180 days (see section IV). Furthermore, when NOAA adds an area to the 
inventory for areas to consider for national marine sanctuary 
designation, it will stay active in the inventory for up to five years.
    15. Comment: Several commenters questioned moving forward with the 
sanctuary nomination process given recent trends of the Federal budget, 
as well as the provisions within section 304(f) of the NMSA, 
``Limitation on Designation of New Sanctuaries.''
    Response: NOAA's purpose with this final rule is to re-open the 
process by which the public submits nominations to NOAA for 
consideration as new national marine sanctuaries. NOAA will address any 
resource issues, as well as NMSA section 304(f), when, in the future, 
it considers a nomination for designation. Designations of new national 
marine sanctuaries are not addressed in this action.
    16. Comment: Several commenters asked NOAA to clarify how the 
nomination process for new national marine sanctuaries coincides with 
other government policy initiatives, such as the National Ocean Policy.
    Response: While NOAA is implementing the sanctuary nomination 
process under the authority of the NMSA, this action also meets the 
goals of the National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan. The 
Implementation Plan includes a specific action to reactivate the ONMS 
Site Evaluation List (SEL). For the reasons stated in this preamble, 
NOAA is replacing the SEL with the sanctuary nomination process, but 
considers this action consistent with the Implementation Plan's goal of 
SEL reactivation. NOAA contemplates collaboration with other Federal 
agencies in management consideration 5 (``The existing 
regulatory and management authorities for the area could be 
supplemented or complemented to meet the conservation and management 
goals for the area.''), as does section 301(b)(7) of the NMSA, which 
directs ONMS to develop and implement coordinated plans for the 
protection and management of national marine sanctuaries.
    17. Comment: Several commenters asked NOAA to take into account the 
presence/absence of existing marine protected areas (MPAs) in the 
vicinity (e.g., who manages them, the extent they are currently 
working, etc.). Other commenters recommended or were concerned about 
the prospect of using the existing list of ``special places'' (e.g., 
MPAs) as a starting point as an existing inventory of worthy, 
nationally significant sites.
    Response: A nominator may elect to include an existing protected 
area, such as marine reserve designated under state authority, as part 
of its nomination for a national marine sanctuary. However, nominators 
should consider that the final nomination criteria identified in this 
rule may be different from, or inconsistent with, the criteria applied 
to protected areas managed under other authorities. Nominators should 
consider the management scheme most appropriate for an area prior to 
submitting a nomination for a national marine sanctuary. While the NMSA 
is a robust and adaptive management tool that offers many alternatives 
for marine protection and conservation, as indicated by management 
consideration 4 (``A national marine sanctuary would provide 
unique conservation and management value for this area or adjacent 
areas.''), it may not be suitable for certain areas or certain types of 
resources.
    18. Comment: Several commenters expressed concern over how tribal 
governments will be included in the process. Some commenters asked that 
NOAA include ``maintenance of native cultures'' in its final criteria, 
and recognize ``tribal governments'' in its list of existing 
authorities.
    Response: Final management consideration 7 identifies the 
types of community support NOAA recommends for a nomination, and 
includes tribal governments. Further, as discussed in section IV of 
this final rule, if a nomination includes waters in proximity to tribal 
lands or areas with customary and usual use of treaty waters or 
stations, NOAA recommends the nominator discuss its nomination with the 
respective tribal government. If a nomination does not indicate tribal 
consultation for these types of areas, NOAA will request the nominator 
do so before continuing its review of the nomination. Should ONMS 
consider any nomination for national marine sanctuary designation, it 
would adhere to its consultation and coordination obligations under the 
NMSA and potential obligations under Section 106 of the National 
Historic Preservation Act with any tribal government included in, or in 
proximity to, the area. NOAA will also fulfill its obligations and 
responsibilities pursuant to Executive Order 13175, ``Consultation and 
Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments.''
    19. Comment: Some commenters suggested NOAA include the term 
``traditional use'' in addition to subsistence use in its final 
criteria, noting that ``traditional/native uses may be broader than 
subsistence and this would be a helpful clarification.''
    Response: NOAA has added ``subsistence and traditional uses'' to 
National Significance Criterion 3 (``The area supports present 
and potential economic uses, such as tourism, commercial and 
recreational fishing, subsistence and traditional uses, diving, and 
other recreational uses that depend on conservation and management of 
the area's resources.'')
    20. Comment: One commenter asked NOAA to consider how a proposed 
area would maintain native cultures.
    Response: If a proposed nomination includes or is in proximity to 
tribal lands, NOAA recommends the nominator consider the maintenance of 
tribal cultures in its proposal. In addition, NOAA has added 
``subsistence and traditional uses'' to National Significance Criterion 
3 (``The area supports present and potential economic uses, 
such as tourism, commercial and recreational fishing, subsistence and 
traditional uses, diving, and other recreational uses that depend

[[Page 33858]]

on conservation and management of the area's resources.'')
    21. Comment: Some commenters suggested that the idea of making the 
process more ``bottom up'' and ``community-driven'' was unclear and may 
exclude the views of stakeholders outside of the immediate geography of 
a nominated area. Some of these commenters noted there are ocean areas 
where the resources are managed for the benefit of the Nation as a 
whole, not limited local user groups. These commenters wanted clarity 
on the role of ``local'' vs. ``national'' stakeholder groups, and more 
information on how NOAA defined ``broad community support.'' Commenters 
were also concerned about how NOAA would identify and evaluate support 
for the nomination to ensure that all voices with an interest are 
heard, not just the voices closest to the proposed area.
    Response: NOAA provided a broad interpretation of `communities' in 
the proposed rule, and acknowledges in this final rule that communities 
are not limited to a specific geography. To further emphasize this 
point, NOAA includes examples of what constitutes communities in its 
final management consideration 7 (``There is community-based 
support for the nomination expressed by a broad range of interests, 
such as: Individuals or locally-based groups (e.g., friends of group, 
chamber of commerce); local, tribal, state, or national agencies; 
elected officials; or topic-based stakeholder groups, at the local, 
regional or national level (e.g., a local chapter of an environmental 
organization, a regionally-based fishing group, a national-level 
recreation or tourism organization, academia or science-based group, or 
an industry association.'')). NOAA believes this revised description of 
``communities'' provides for a variety of interested parties to 
organize and submit national marine sanctuary nominations.
    22. Comment: Several commenters asked for a clarification about the 
differences between the Site Evaluation List and the new sanctuary 
nomination process.
    Response: The primary difference between the Site Evaluation List 
(SEL) and the sanctuary nomination process is that the sanctuary 
nomination process necessitates nominations be developed by the public 
in a grass roots, bottom up model that promotes community-based 
stewardship of special marine and Great Lakes areas. In contrast, the 
SEL relied almost solely on input from regional review panels comprised 
of academic experts and ocean management practitioners. NOAA believes 
the final criteria, management considerations, and nomination process 
provide specific, well-defined parameters for communities across the 
Nation to have a voice and opportunity to effectively nominate areas 
that meet the high standard of national marine sanctuary designation.
    A secondary difference is that the sanctuary nomination process 
allows nominators to submit areas they feel best represent the most 
current marine and Great Lakes areas of national significance. All 
sites on the SEL were 20 or more years old and have likely experienced 
changes in resources (both ecological and cultural) and management. 
NOAA believes it prudent, therefore, to remove these sites as 
candidates for national marine sanctuary designation and allow the 
public to consider new areas. Nominators can submit areas on the SEL as 
part of the new sanctuary nomination process, but should ensure these 
areas are consistent with the final national significance criteria and 
management considerations.
    23. Comment: Several commenters asked about the sites listed on the 
deactivated Site Evaluation List and requested that NOAA reconsider 
removing these sites from consideration.
    Response: While the Site Evaluation List (SEL) was last active in 
1995, most of the sites on the SEL were originally put on the list in 
the 1980s, and there have not been any recent efforts by NOAA to update 
information about those sites. Therefore, NOAA has determined it 
appropriate to remove the existing SEL sites as pre-existing areas for 
consideration as national marine sanctuaries. However, nominators can 
re-propose areas from the SEL per the final national significance 
criteria, management considerations, and process identified in this 
final rule. Following the process described in this final rule, NOAA 
will evaluate all nominated areas, including any that may have 
previously been on the SEL.
    24. Comment: One commenter asked NOAA to provide more information 
on how the sanctuary nomination process would deal with nominations to 
de-designate a national marine sanctuary. This commenter suggested that 
the goal of the ONMS should be to return the areas to the state's 
control.
    Response: Designation and de-designation of national marine 
sanctuaries are beyond the scope of this action. There are other means 
by which NOAA evaluates the effectiveness of national marine sanctuary 
management, including a rigorous management plan review processes, that 
could consider changes in regulations and area of national marine 
sanctuary managed. This final rule does not contemplate the de-
designation of any national marine sanctuary.
    With regard to ``returning areas to state control,'' this is not a 
goal of the NMSA. Many of the current national marine sanctuaries have 
strong partnerships with the respective state government, and NOAA 
anticipates these will continue in any future designation of a national 
marine sanctuary adjacent to, or in proximity to, state lands.
    25. Comment: Some commenters had suggestions for amending ONMS 
regulations to align the sanctuary nomination process proposed rule 
with a January 2012 proposed rule issued by NOAA designed to clarify 
and update several ONMS regulations. Commenters suggested that the two 
rules were conflicting, and that NOAA should withdraw both rules and 
begin the process again with an advanced notice of rulemaking.
    Response: In January 2012 (78 FR 5998), NOAA issued a proposal to 
amend national marine sanctuary regulations as part of a comprehensive 
regulatory review pursuant to Executive Order 13563. That action 
proposed to modify the Site Evaluation List (SEL) regulations so that 
rather than NOAA solely selecting potential sites from a periodically 
updated list (the SEL), the public would also be able to petition the 
agency for new national marine sanctuaries in areas not contemplated by 
the SEL.
    Upon further analysis and after considering public comments on the 
June 2013 proposed rule for the sanctuary nomination process, NOAA 
believes the sanctuary nomination process described in this final rule 
provides a more structured process for stakeholder involvement in the 
nomination of new national marine sanctuaries. When NOAA ultimately 
revises its final rule for the January 2012 proposal to amend sanctuary 
regulations, it will address changes to the SEL prompted by the 
sanctuary nomination process.
    26. Comment: Most commenters supported the regulatory amendments 
that were proposed. Some commenters suggested that the proposed 
amendment to 15 CFR 922.10(b) be revised to include explicit steps for 
submitting a nomination. With regard to section 922.10(c), some 
commenters were concerned that NOAA simply stating ``any further 
guidance issued by NOAA'' could run afoul of the Administrative 
Procedures Act (APA). Another commenter suggested keeping section 
922.21, but replacing references to SEL

[[Page 33859]]

with references to ``list of eligible candidates.''
    Response: NOAA agrees regarding 15 CFR 922.21, and has replaced the 
reference to SEL with a definition of ``Inventory'' (section 922.3). 
NOAA has also revised section 922.10 based on comments requesting more 
detailed information on the criteria, management considerations, and 
review process for national marine sanctuary nominations. NOAA has 
removed from the final rule the language ``any further guidance issued 
by NOAA.''

VII. Summary of Changes From the Proposed Rule

    With this final rule, NOAA has made several changes in response to 
comments and for purposes of clarity that are a logical outgrowth of 
the proposed rule. In the proposed rule, NOAA suggested using the 
twelve standards set forth in NMSA section 303(b) to evaluate 
nominations. Several public comments noted that these standards are too 
general for use as criteria and suggested that NOAA provide more 
clarity and specificity regarding their meaning and intent (see 
comments 2 through 6, and 10). In response to these comments, NOAA 
clarified the language of the proposed standards and grouped the 
standards into two categories, one addressing national significance and 
a second considers the management feasibility of a nomination. NOAA has 
revised the final rule to include four national significance criteria 
and seven management considerations, all of which are consistent with 
the standards of section 303(b) of the NMSA, as identified in the 
proposed rule. NOAA removed two proposed standards without 
substantively changing the proposed rule, as these standards were more 
appropriate for consideration during the national marine sanctuary 
designation process, rather than the nomination process. The removed 
standards focused on the manageability of an area as a national marine 
sanctuary and an area's value as an addition to the National Marine 
Sanctuary System.
    NOAA added two additional measurements (as final management 
considerations) to this final rule that were a logical outgrowth of the 
proposed rule (management considerations 6 and 7). 
These considerations seek to determine the variety of community-based 
interest in a national marine sanctuary nomination, and the potential 
partnership opportunities associated with the specific area being 
nominated, both of which NOAA believes are essential to any future 
national marine sanctuary nomination. The public comments on the 
proposed rule and NOAA's experience with the current sanctuaries has 
shown that community engagement is critical to successful sanctuary 
management.
    NOAA has also made revisions to the nomination review process based 
on the public comments on the proposed rule. The public requested 
additional clarity on the review steps that are described in six steps 
in this final rule.
    Finally, NOAA has made changes to the regulatory amendments, by 
revising section 922.10, and adding a definition in section 922.3 to 
update the regulations with the new nomenclature for the sanctuary 
nomination process. NOAA has also revised section 922.21.

VIII. Classification

A. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    At the proposed stage, the Chief Counsel for Regulation of the 
Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of 
the Small Business Administration (SBA) that this rule would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
NOAA received no comments on this certification, the rationale for 
which is contained in the proposed rule. Accordingly, no regulatory 
flexibility analysis is required, and none has been prepared.

B. Paperwork Reduction Act

    Notwithstanding any other provisions of the law, no person is 
required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty 
for failure to comply with a collection of information subject to the 
requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), 44 U.S.C. 3501 et 
seq., unless that collection of information displays a currently valid 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. Nominations for 
national marine sanctuaries discussed in this final rule involve a 
collection-of-information requirement subject to the requirements of 
the PRA. OMB has approved this collection of information requirement 
under OMB control number 0648-0682.
    The collection-of-information requirement applies to persons 
seeking to submit nominations to designate new national marine 
sanctuaries and is necessary to determine whether the nominated areas 
are consistent with the purposes and policies of the NMSA. Public 
reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to 
average 29 hours per response (nomination and supporting documents), 
including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data 
sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and 
reviewing the collection of information.

C. Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

    This rule has been determined to not be significant within the 
meaning of Executive Order 12866.

D. National Environmental Policy Act

    NOAA has concluded that this action will not have a significant 
effect, individually or cumulatively, on the human environment, because 
this action is not creating or designating any new national marine 
sanctuaries. Therefore, this action is categorically excluded from the 
requirement to prepare an environmental assessment or environmental 
impact statement in accordance with Section 6.03c.3(i) of NOAA 
Administrative Order 216-6. Specifically, this action is a notice of an 
administrative and legal nature. Should NOAA decide to designate a 
national marine sanctuary, each individual national marine sanctuary 
designation will be subject to case-by-case analysis, as required under 
NEPA and as outlined in section 304(a)(2)(A) of the NMSA.

E. Information Quality Act

    Pursuant to Section 515 of Public Law 106-554 (IQA), this 
information product has undergone a pre-dissemination review by [insert 
Office], completed on [date]. The signed pre-dissemination review and 
documentation form is on file in that office.

List of Subjects in 15 CFR Part 922

    Administrative practice and procedure, Amendments, Authorization, 
Commercial fishing, Cultural resources, Definitions, Designation, 
Ecology, Environmental protection, Habitat, Marine resources, Maritime 
heritage, Natural resources, Nomination, Recreational fishing, 
Resources, Research, Traditional uses, Tourism, Water resources.

    Dated: June 9, 2014.
Holly A. Bamford,
Assistant Administrator for Ocean Services and Coastal Zone Management.

    Accordingly, for the reasons set forth above, NOAA amends 15 CFR 
part 922 as follows:

PART 922--NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY PROGRAM REGULATIONS

0
1. The authority citation for part 922 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.


[[Page 33860]]



0
2. In Sec.  922.3:
0
a. Remove the definition of ``Active Candidate'';
0
b. Add a definition of ``inventory''; and
0
c. Remove the definition of ``Site Evaluation List (SEL)''.
    The addition reads as follows:


Sec.  922.3  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Inventory means a list of nominated areas selected by the Director 
as qualifying for future consideration of designation as a national 
marine sanctuary.
* * * * *

0
3. Revise subpart B to read as follows:

Subpart B--Sanctuary Nomination Process

Sec.
922.10 General.
922.11 Selection of nominated areas for national marine sanctuary 
designation.

Sec.  922.10  General.

    (a) Nomination process. The sanctuary nomination process (see 
National Marine Sanctuaries Web site www.sanctuaries.noaa.gov) is the 
means by which the public can submit areas of the marine and Great 
Lakes environments for consideration by NOAA as a national marine 
sanctuary.
    (b) National significance criteria. The Director will consider the 
following in determining if a nominated area is of special national 
significance:
    (1) The area's natural resources and ecological qualities are of 
special significance and contribute to: Biological productivity or 
diversity; maintenance or enhancement of ecosystem structure and 
function; maintenance of ecologically or commercially important species 
or species assemblages; maintenance or enhancement of critical habitat, 
representative biogeographic assemblages, or both; or maintenance or 
enhancement of connectivity to other ecologically significant 
resources.
    (2) The area contains submerged maritime heritage resources of 
special historical, cultural, or archaeological significance, that: 
Individually or collectively are consistent with the criteria of 
eligibility or listing on the National Register of Historic Places; 
have met or which would meet the criteria for designation as a National 
Historic Landmark; or have special or sacred meaning to the indigenous 
people of the region or nation.
    (3) The area supports present and potential economic uses, such as: 
Tourism; commercial and recreational fishing; subsistence and 
traditional uses; diving; and other recreational uses that depend on 
conservation and management of the area's resources.
    (4) The publicly-derived benefits of the area, such as aesthetic 
value, public recreation, and access to places depend on conservation 
and management of the area's resources.
    (c) Management considerations. The Director will consider the 
following in determining the manageability of a nominated area:
    (1) The area provides or enhances opportunities for research in 
marine science, including marine archaeology.
    (2) The area provides or enhances opportunities for education, 
including the understanding and appreciation of the marine and Great 
Lakes environments.
    (3) Adverse impacts from current or future uses and activities 
threaten the area's significance, values, qualities, and resources.
    (4) A national marine sanctuary would provide unique conservation 
and management value for this area that also have beneficial values for 
adjacent areas.
    (5) The existing regulatory and management authorities for the area 
could be supplemented or complemented to meet the conservation and 
management goals for the area.
    (6) There are commitments or possible commitments for partnerships 
opportunities such as cost sharing, office space or exhibit space, 
vessel time, or other collaborations to aid conservation or management 
programs for the area.
    (7) There is community-based support for the nomination expressed 
by a broad range of interests, such as: Individuals or locally-based 
groups (e.g., friends of group, chamber of commerce); local, tribal, 
state, or national agencies; elected officials; or topic-based 
stakeholder groups, at the local, regional or national level (e.g., a 
local chapter of an environmental organization, a regionally-based 
fishing group, a national-level recreation or tourism organization, 
academia or science-based group, or an industry association).
    (d) Following evaluation of a nomination against the national 
significance criteria and management considerations, the Director may 
place nominated areas in a publicly available inventory for future 
consideration of designation as a national marine sanctuary.
    (e) A determination that a site is eligible for national marine 
sanctuary designation, by itself shall not subject the site to any 
regulatory control under the Act. Such controls may only be imposed 
after designation.


Sec.  922.11  Selection of nominated areas for national marine 
sanctuary designation.

    (a) The Director may select a nominated area from the inventory for 
future consideration as a national marine sanctuary.
    (b) Selection of a nominated area from the inventory shall begin 
the formal sanctuary designation process. A notice of intent to prepare 
a draft environmental impact statement shall be published in the 
Federal Register and posted on the Office of National Marine 
Sanctuaries Web site. Any designation process will follow the 
procedures for designation and implementation set forth in section 304 
of the Act.

Sec.  922.21  [Removed and Reserved]

0
4. Remove and reserve Sec.  922.21.

Sec.  922.23  [Removed and Reserved]

0
5. Remove and reserve Sec.  922.23.
[FR Doc. 2014-13807 Filed 6-12-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-NK-P