Marine Sanctuaries: to protect and expand

The National Ocean & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has proposed the expansion of the Gulf of Farollones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries, in San Francisco.

NOAA's proposal aims to protect the northern California coast from offshore drilling. The plan, which has been encouraged by Surfrider Foundation, extends the sanctuaries nearly 2,800 square miles, more than doubling their size.

The goal is to defend the region's outstanding marine habitats, wildlife, fisheries, and recreational areas from the threat of oil and gas drilling. The designation would not affect fishing, boating, or other existing uses.

"The waters off the northern California coast are nutrient-rich and drive a thriving marine ecosystem," explains Daniel J. Basta, director of NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

"These two sanctuaries provide great recreational and educational opportunities for thousands of visitors each year."

NOAA has released a proposed rule, a draft environmental impact statement (EIS), and draft revised management plans as part of the sanctuary expansion process. NOAA is soliciting public comment on these documents through June 30th, 2014.

The proposal still allows surfers the access to important recreational areas, where species of concern have a low likelihood of disturbance.