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Regulations

Federal regulations prohibit approaching humpback whales (by any means) within 100 yards (90 m) when on or in the water, and 1,000 feet (300 m) when operating an aircraft. These regulations apply to all ocean users, year-round throughout the Hawaiian Islands.Regulations are in place to protect humpback whales in the sanctuary and also apply anywhere within Hawaiian waters per the Endangered Species Act. Enforcement of these regulations are coordinated by the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), State of Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement (DOCARE) and the NOAA Office of General Counsel.

Report any violations of these regulations to NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Hotline 1-800-853-1964


Activities Prohibited in the Sanctuary

(1) approaching, or causing a vessel or other object to approach, within the sanctuary, by any means, within 100 yards of any humpback whale except as authorized under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), as amended, and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), as amended;

(2) operating any aircraft above the sanctuary within 1,000 feet of any humpback whale except when in any designated flight corridor for takeoff or landing from an airport or runway or as authorized under the MMPA and the ESA;

View the complete list of regulations for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

Credit: US Coast Guard
Operation Koholā Guardian involves coordinated patrols during the humpback whale season by NOAA OLE, USCG and DOCARE
Operation Koholā Guardian involves coordinated patrols during the humpback whale season by NOAA OLE, USCG, and DOCARE.
Find out more.


Related Links

NOAA Office of Law Enforcement

United States Coast Guard

Hawaii DLNR Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement




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