California politicos are praising the expansion of the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries, which will double their size and permanently protect a stretch of coastline in Sonoma and Mendocino counties.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has published its final rule on the expansion, after a two-year process that included public comment and research by NOAA and its partners.
U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and former Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, had carried legislation to expand the sanctuaries, and had urged the Obama Administration to use its executive authority to protect the area.
“I am grateful to the Obama Administration for this historic decision which will more than double these magnificent national marine sanctuaries off the California coast and permanently protect one of the most productive coastal ocean regions on the planet,” Boxer said Thursday.
Boxer’s office said the expansion will help support the more than half a million jobs and over $34 billion in economic activity that depend on ocean tourism, recreation, and fishing in California.
It also will permanently protect important habitat for at least 25 threatened or endangered species, including blue whales, humpback whales, northern fur seals and leatherback turtles – California’s official marine reptile; spectacular living reefs of corals and sponges; one-third of the world’s whale and dolphin species; at least 163 bird species, including the largest colony of seabirds in the continental U.S.; and more than 300 species of fish, including commercially valuable salmon and groundfish.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said the “nation’s oceans and coasts are among our greatest ecological treasures,” and credited Woolsey and Boxer with the win. “Together, we will continue to act to secure God’s beautiful creation for generations to come.”