The National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA) directs Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary to take an ecosystem-based approach to management with the primary mandate of resource protection. We work with communities, ocean users, federal and state agencies, and non-governmental organizations to sustain and improve the health of the Stellwagen Bank region. We take special interest in protecting our heritage resources for future generations and our whales -- the charismatic animals that attract many visitors and support important ecotourism and recreation industries. A healthy ocean and coastal environment supports healthy American communities.

a law enforcement boat at a dock


Learn about the agencies that enforce sanctuary and environmental laws.

whales swim near a large ship


Programs to protect whales from vessel strikes, harassment from whale watching, noise and entanglements.


cups and dishes among debris of a shipwreck


Programs and policies designed to eliminate damage to shipwrecks from fishing gear and diver interactions.

people photograph a whale from a small boat

Wildlife Viewing Guidelines

Read NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries' guidelines for responsible recreation and wildlife viewing.

researchers tag a whale from a raft


Learn what is needed to undertake operations that might affect resources managed by the national marine sanctuary.

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Find out when agencies must formally communicate with one another if one agency's activities may affect the resources of another.

A NOAA boat cuts through waves

Emergency Response

Find out about sanctuary preparations for an oil spill or other major disasters.

a person looks through binoculars over open water

Report a Disturbance

If you see someone violating sanctuary regulations, endangering wildlife, or causing a disturbance, here's what to do.

a sandlance poking its head out of sand on the seafloor

Forage Fish

Learn about sanctuary actions to protect forage fish species.