The expansion of Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones national marine sanctuaries off northern California takes effect today, following a 45-day period of Congressional review. The expansion will help protect the region’s marine and coastal habitats, biological resources and special ecological features.
As a result of the expansion, Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary now will be known as Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. The name change reflects the sanctuary’s new geographical boundaries and expanded opportunities for stewardship, research and education.
“We are very excited about the expansion of our sanctuary, and the opportunity, through our name change, to be more inclusive, and to bring greater public awareness to the fact that these waters represent an extraordinary marine ecosystem, one of the richest on our planet,” said Maria Brown, Farallones superintendent. “Our new name will be one that encourages partnerships in science, education, technology, management and community beyond our previous geographic and demographic area.”
“This expansion represents the culmination of a multi-year effort to protect an important part of the ocean,” said John Armor, acting director of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “We look forward to working with our partners in these sanctuaries’ communities.”
The expansion of the two national marine sanctuaries, which both more than doubled, was approved in March. Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, located 42 miles north of San Francisco, expanded from 529 square miles to 1,286 square miles. Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary grew from 1,282 square miles to 3,295 square miles of ocean and coastal waters.
The expansion was based on years of public comment and research by NOAA and its scientific partners that identified the nutrient-rich upwelling zone originating off Point Arena and flowing south into the original sanctuaries as one of the most productive in North America.
During a review of both sanctuaries’ management plans, NOAA received comments from the public in 2001 expressing interest in expanding the boundaries north and west. In response, the revised management plans published in 2008 included a public process to consider possible expansion and ensure that sanctuary boundaries were inclusive of the surrounding area’s natural resources and ecological qualities.
From December 2012 through June 2014, NOAA conducted a public engagement process to allow the public to weigh in on the proposed expansion. The agency received more than 1,300 comments, most in support of the proposed expansion.
The newly named Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, designated in 1981, and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, designated in 1989, both contribute greatly to ocean and coastal management by engaging in public outreach and education. The sanctuaries also promote stewardship, conduct scientific and applied research initiatives, and develop and support programs to strengthen resource protection for the long-term health of the region.
A celebration of the expansion of both sanctuaries is planned for Sunday, June 28, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Gualala Arts Center, 46501 Gualala Road in Gualala, California. The free, public event will feature activities, entertainment and refreshments.