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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 6, 2007

Contact: Mary Jane Schramm
415-561-6622, ext. 205

Sarah Marquis
949-222-2212

NOAA's Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Seeks Public Input on Vessel Use in Tomales Bay

NOAA’s Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary will be hosting two public workshops on how to better manage vessel use in Tomales Bay. The goal of the forums, scheduled for Sept. 25 and Oct. 13, is to help marine managers in Marin County protect public health, improve water quality, preserve the bay’s important habitats and wildlife, and ensure safe water recreation.

Eleven local, state and federal agencies, including NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program, have overlapping jurisdictions in Tomales Bay. These agencies have been working to sort out management roles, examine current policies, and identify areas of concern in the bay. Based on the input received at the public workshops, managers will consider potential actions addressing problems related to vessel mooring, vessel sewage pump-out stations, waterborne invasive species, and boater information exchange.

Other agencies involved in the process include the California State Lands Commission, California Coastal Commission, California Department of Boating and Waterways, California Department of Fish and Game, California Department of Public Health, California State Parks, Marin County Sheriffs Department, Point Reyes National Seashore / National Park Service, Richardson Bay Regional Agency, and the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Tomales Bay’s diverse ecosystems support an extraordinary abundance and variety of marine life, including 13 threatened or endangered species. Biologically important habitats like seagrass beds, found in abundance in the sanctuary, are key to the survival of important commercial species such as oysters and coho salmon. As part of the Great Pacific Flyway, Tomales Bay is also an important migratory stopover and wintering area for more than 50 waterbird species, and in 2002 it received worldwide recognition as a Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance, one of only 19 sites in the United States designated at that time.

A preliminary public document regarding the workshops will be available at http://www.farallones.noaa.gov. The workshops will be held at the Red Barn Classroom, #1 Bear Valley Road, Point Reyes Station on Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 6 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 13 at 9:30 a.m. For more information, contact Miriam Gordon at 415-561-6622, ext. 333 or by e-mail at Miriam.F.Gordon@noaa.gov.

Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, designated in 1981 because of its rich biological diversity, lies beyond San Francisco’s Golden Gate. The sanctuary encompasses over 1,200 square miles of ocean and coastal waters, as well as bays and estuaries such as Tomales Bay and Bolinas Lagoon, from Bodega Head in Sonoma County to waters off the San Mateo County coast. The sanctuary’s food-rich waters support the largest breeding seabird rookery in the contiguous United States. The sanctuary provides vital nursery and spawning grounds for fish and shellfish. At least 36 species of marine mammals have been observed within its borders, including 25 endangered species, such as blue and humpback whales.

NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program seeks to increase the public awareness of America’s marine resources and maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, the sanctuary program manages 13 national marine sanctuaries and one marine national monument that together encompass more than 150,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts, and protects.

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On the Web:

NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov

NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program: http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov

Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary: http://farallones.noaa.gov

 

 

 

 

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