Ocean Protection, Marine Protected Areas
June 27 2017

Executive Order Threatens Monterey Bay and Other Coastal Communities

by Jennifer Savage

Photo credit: Josh Pederson / Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary 

Anyone who has spent time in or around of California’s four national marine sanctuaries knows what a wealth of wildlife abounds in those rich habitats. But all this wonder, along with the economy it supports, could be lost as a result of the Trump administration’s “America-First Offshore Energy Strategy” executive order. The order calls for a “review process” of Monterey Bay, Channel Islands, Cordell Bank and the Greater Farallones national marine sanctuaries to assess what oil, gas, methane hydrate and mineral resources are contained within them. If current protections are undone, thousands of ocean creatures and the habitats they depend on could be harmed.

This contradicts California's longstanding leadership in the realm of ocean protection, which includes not only our magnificent marine sanctuaries, but a statewide network of marine protected areas – we are the only state with such a network! This determination to protect our coast stems from a history marked by environmental disasters and the understanding that California’s ocean economy, which is valued at $45 billion, depends on a clean coast. We’ve seen the damage that unchecked privatizing of an unprotected ocean can cause. In 2015, over 140,000 gallons of crude oil spilled at Refugio Beach in Santa Barbara, killing over 300 animals, closing beaches, shutting down fisheries and sparking horrified reactions across the state. And that's just one, relatively "small" spill. Over the past 100 years, more than 19 million gallons of petroleum and its component products have into California's waters, air and land.  

So it's no surprise that Californians are pushing back against the Trump administration’s attempt to undermine the progress we've made toward a safer, more stable environment. Conservation and fishing organizations, along with local businesses, and state and federal legislators are speaking up. Local officials in Los Angeles and Santa Cruz are likewise passing resolutions endorsing California’s marine sanctuaries and rejecting this to open California's waters to new offshore oil drilling – Santa Barbara, San Francisco and other areas are expected to follow suit.

Help the Surfrider Foundation stop the Trump administration’s attempt to sell out California’s coast. Voice your opinion now through the Federal Register during the brief 30-day public comment period ending July 26, and insist the federal government not undo the environmental and economic protections we're so passionate about. 

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