Morro Bay marine sanctuary denied
March 12, 2015
By KAREN VELIE
The federal government denied a request by the Northern Chumash Tribal Council and members of the public to make a section of the Pacific Ocean between the Monterey Bay and Channel Islands a national marine sanctuary.
In its March 6 denial, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the nomination by Fred Collins of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council was not sufficient to move forward with the next step in the approval process. Specifically, that Collins did not explain how current and future uses would threaten the area’s resources and quality and that he was not clear about what local partner agencies would bring to the process.
In addition, Collins failed to explain how a national marine sanctuary would work with or improve existing regulatory and management authorities in the area and how it would provide unique conservation.
If Collins addresses the application’s insufficiencies, he can resubmit the tribal council’s nomination request, the NOAA said in its denial letter.
In the council’s original application, it noted that a marine sanctuary designation for the area would preserve unique cultural and natural resources and permanently prevent offshore oil and gas development in the protected area. The Chumash consider a portion of the proposed sanctuary to be sacred.
Several local officials and groups sent letters of support to the NOAA in January including San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx, SLO County Supervisor Bruce Gibson, the California Coastal Commission, Surfrider chapters and the Sierra Club.