Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee today passed the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries Boundary Modification and Protection Act, legislation introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein (both D-CA). The bill will permanently protect the coastal waters and estuaries of Sonoma County and portions of Mendocino County by extending the boundaries of existing marine sanctuaries. Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) has reintroduced a companion bill, which the House passed last year.
Senator Boxer said, “Expanding the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries will not only protect one of the world’s most productive ecosystems from pollution, it will also preserve California’s vital coastal economy. This legislation will help maintain the magnificent natural beauty of the Sonoma and Mendocino Coast for future generations.”
Senator Feinstein said, “Conserving the diverse and abundant marine habitats located off of Sonoma and Mendocino Counties is a critical priority for California. The legislation approved by the Commerce Committee today will do just that by expanding the boundaries of two federal marine sanctuaries, the Gulf of Farallones and the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. This will also have the added benefit of helping to protect the California families and businesses that rely on a clean and thriving coastal economy for their livelihood. I applaud Senator Boxer for her leadership, and I thank my colleagues on the Commerce Committee for their support. It’s my hope that we will be able to secure passage of this legislation by the full Senate in the coming weeks and months.”
The Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries Boundary Modification and Protection Act would expand the boundaries of the two existing National Marine Sanctuaries to protect the entire coastline in Sonoma County and as far north as Point Arena in Mendocino County, adding a total of 2,100 square nautical miles to the sanctuaries. The new boundaries would protect the Russian and Gualala River estuaries and the nutrient-rich Bodega Canyon from off shore oil drilling and pollution. The bill does not impose any additional regulations on fishing, which is under the jurisdiction of the State of California and the Pacific Fisheries Management Council.
The Sonoma and Mendocino coasts are one of the planet’s most biologically productive marine environments. These areas support many species of marine mammals, birds and fish, including endangered blue and humpback whales.
The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.