Jun 08 2011
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (both D-Calif.) today praised the Senate Commerce Committee’s passage of the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries Boundary Modification and Protection Act. The legislation, which Senators Boxer and Feinstein introduced in January, would permanently protect the coastal waters and estuaries of Sonoma County and portions of Mendocino County by extending the boundaries of existing marine sanctuaries.
Senator Feinstein said, “This bill adds nearly 2,100 square nautical miles to the Marine Sanctuaries of the Gulf of Farallones and the Cordell Bank. These waters are not only some of the most beautiful in the world, they are also some of the most biologically diverse. I believe it’s very important that we protect these important marine habitats and ensure they are safe from oil spills and pollution.”
Senator Boxer said, “By expanding these marine sanctuaries, we will help maintain the pristine natural beauty of the Sonoma and Mendocino Coast for future generations while protecting one of the world’s most productive ecosystems and California’s vital coastal economy.”
The bill 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 nearly 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 offshore 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 fishes, including endangered blue and humpback whales.
The bill has widespread support at the local, state, and national levels, including from the Counties of Mendocino, Sonoma, Marin, and San Francisco; ten cities and towns in the expansion region; the Sonoma County Economic Development Board; the California Coastal Commission and California State Lands Commission; the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Marketing Association; and numerous environmental organizations. Similar legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).