Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA; US)


By Michael J. Lynch, University of South Florida, FL


The Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA; MPSRA Link) also known as the Ocean Dumping Act, was passed in 1972 (Public Law 92-532; 16 U.S.C. and 33 U.S.C.) and amended in 1988. The purpose of the MPSRA is to protect the ocean from unregulated use for the dumping of pollutants. The MPRSA was passed with some concern that the Clean Water Act and other pollution control acts might increase ocean dumping of waste/pollution.

In theory, the MPSRA prohibits all ocean dumping unless a permit for dumping of waste is obtained from the Army Corps of Engineers or the US EPA depending on the pollutant being dumped. The EPA may issue emergence permits for ocean dumping when no other alternative exists.

The MPRSA requires that the Secretary of Commerce in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the EPA create a coordinated monitoring and research program to assess the state of US ocean waters. In addition to pollution, such studies include assessment of the effect of over-fishing and other human induced changes to the ocean. An annual report on the state of US ocean waters is to be produced and presented to Congress.

Under the MPSRA, the Secretary of Commerce may also designate certain areas as National Marine Sanctuaries to enhance marine system health and management, conserve sensitive areas and to enhance the protection of endangered species, to promote research, to promote recreation, and to fulfill other ecological, educational and historic preservation goals.

Under the direction of the EPA and NOAA, NOAA is to establish a grant system to provide research funds to assess and protect ocean health (this provision of the Act is referred to as the Regional Marine Research Program).

The progress of ocean health is to be monitored under provisions of the Act by the National Coastal Monitoring System.

The MPRSA is affected by amendments in a number of related laws including but not limited to the following: London Dumping Convention Implementation (P.L. 93-254); Surface Transportation Assistance Act (P.L. 97-424) ; Water Resources Development Act (P.L. 99-662); Water Quality Act of 1987 (P.L. 100-4); Ocean Dumping Ban Act (P.L. 100-688, title I); U.S. Public Vessel Medical Waste Anti-Dumping (P..L. 100-688, title III); National Coastal Monitoring Act (P.L. 102-567, title Vl) and the Water Resource Development Act (P.L. 102-580).
Further Reading


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