November 20, 2008
NOAA has released final revised management plans, regulations and a joint final environmental impact statement for Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones and Monterey Bay national marine sanctuaries.
The plans include the expansion of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary by 775 square miles to include the Davidson Seamount, one of the largest known underwater mountains in U.S. coastal waters and home to a wide variety of marine species.
“The new management plans offer a vision and course for protecting the rich marine ecosystems of three adjacent national marine sanctuaries in California while continuing to allow compatible, sustainable human uses,” said William J. Douros, West Coast regional director for the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “The management plans for the three sanctuaries are tailored to address the challenges facing each sanctuary.”
The result of more than seven years of study, planning and extensive public input, these detailed documents are major revisions of the sanctuaries' original management plans and address key issues including ecosystem protection, wildlife disturbance, vessel discharge, water quality, non-native species and coastal development.
The final plans consist primarily of non-regulatory actions, but some changes to sanctuary regulations clarify and strengthen protections for marine habitats, sensitive species, water quality and submerged cultural and historical resources. Highlights of the regulatory changes include:
The management plans also include proposed actions to expand research, education, outreach, and enforcement programs, create and enhance partnerships, integrate environmental monitoring networks, enhance wildlife protections, increase water quality monitoring, and reduce ocean impacts from coastal development.
The joint final environmental impact statement analyzes the potential environmental and economic impacts from activities and regulations outlined in the three management plans.
Copies of the management plans, regulations and joint final environmental impact statement are available at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary office at 299 Foam Street, Monterey, Calif. 93940, 831-647-4201; the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary office at 991 Marine Drive, San Francisco Presidio, San Francisco, Calif. 94129, 415-561-6622; or from the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary office at 1 Bear Valley Road, Pt. Reyes Station, Calif. 94956, 415-663-0314. The documents are also available online or by e-mail.
Managed by the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, the three sanctuaries are located along the shores of northern and central California and share many of the same resources and issues. Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary encompasses 526 square miles of ocean off Point Reyes, north of San Francisco. The 1,255-square-mile Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary is located west of the San Francisco Bay area. Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary stretches along 276 miles of the central coast and encompasses 5,322 square miles of coastal and ocean waters. With the addition of the Davidson Seamount, the Monterey Bay sanctuary will encompass 6,097 square miles.
NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.