View all text of Chapter 32 [§ 1431 - § 1445c-1]

§ 1443. Destruction or loss of, or injury to, sanctuary resources
(a) Liability
(1) Liability to United StatesAny person who destroys, causes the loss of, or injures any sanctuary resource is liable to the United States for an amount equal to the sum of—
(A) the amount of response costs and damages resulting from the destruction, loss, or injury; and
(B) interest on that amount calculated in the manner described under section 2705 of title 33.
(2) Liability in rem

Any vessel used to destroy, cause the loss of, or injure any sanctuary resource shall be liable in rem to the United States for response costs and damages resulting from such destruction, loss, or injury. The amount of that liability shall constitute a maritime lien on the vessel and may be recovered in an action in rem in any district court of the United States that has jurisdiction over the vessel.

(3) DefensesA person is not liable under this subsection if that person establishes that—
(A) the destruction or loss of, or injury to, the sanctuary resource was caused solely by an act of God, an act of war, or an act or omission of a third party, and the person acted with due care;
(B) the destruction, loss, or injury was caused by an activity authorized by Federal or State law; or
(C) the destruction, loss, or injury was negligible.
(4) Limits to liability

Nothing in sections 4281–4289 of the Revised Statutes of the United States or section 30706 of title 46 shall limit the liability of any person under this chapter.

(b) Response actions and damage assessment
(1) Response actions

The Secretary may undertake or authorize all necessary actions to prevent or minimize the destruction or loss of, or injury to, sanctuary resources, or to minimize the imminent risk of such destruction, loss, or injury.

(2) Damage assessment

The Secretary shall assess damages to sanctuary resources in accordance with section 1432(6) of this title.

(c) Civil actions for response costs and damages
(1) The Attorney General, upon request of the Secretary, may commence a civil action against any person or vessel who may be liable under subsection (a) for response costs and damages. The Secretary, acting as trustee for sanctuary resources for the United States, shall submit a request for such an action to the Attorney General whenever a person may be liable for such costs or damages.
(2) An action under this subsection may be brought in the United States district court for any district in which—
(A) the defendant is located, resides, or is doing business, in the case of an action against a person;
(B) the vessel is located, in the case of an action against a vessel; or
(C) the destruction of, loss of, or injury to a sanctuary resource occurred.
(d) Use of recovered amountsResponse costs and damages recovered by the Secretary under this section shall be retained by the Secretary in the manner provided for in section 9607(f)(1) of title 42, and used as follows:
(1) Response costsAmounts recovered by the United States for costs of response actions and damage assessments under this section shall be used, as the Secretary considers appropriate—
(A) to reimburse the Secretary or any other Federal or State agency that conducted those activities; and
(B) after reimbursement of such costs, to restore, replace, or acquire the equivalent of any sanctuary resource.
(2) Other amountsAll other amounts recovered shall be used, in order of priority—
(A) to restore, replace, or acquire the equivalent of the sanctuary resources that were the subject of the action, including for costs of monitoring and the costs of curation and conservation of archeological, historical, and cultural sanctuary resources;
(B) to restore degraded sanctuary resources of the national marine sanctuary that was the subject of the action, giving priority to sanctuary resources and habitats that are comparable to the sanctuary resources that were the subject of the action; and
(C) to restore degraded sanctuary resources of other national marine sanctuaries.
(3) Federal-State coordination

Amounts recovered under this section with respect to sanctuary resources lying within the jurisdiction of a State shall be used under paragraphs (2)(A) and (B) in accordance with the court decree or settlement agreement and an agreement entered into by the Secretary and the Governor of that State.

(e) Statute of limitations

An action for response costs or damages under subsection (c) shall be barred unless the complaint is filed within 3 years after the date on which the Secretary completes a damage assessment and restoration plan for the sanctuary resources to which the action relates.

(Pub. L. 92–532, title III, § 312, as added Pub. L. 100–627, title II, § 204(a), Nov. 7, 1988, 102 Stat. 3215; amended Pub. L. 102–587, title II, §§ 2107(d), 2110, Nov. 4, 1992, 106 Stat. 5044, 5045; Pub. L. 104–283, § 9(e), Oct. 11, 1996, 110 Stat. 3367; Pub. L. 106–513, §§ 13, 19(c), Nov. 13, 2000, 114 Stat. 2389, 2393.)