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01 • 06 • 2012

Sanctuary Expansion in Northern California

On March 12, 2015, NOAA finalized the expansion of the Gulf of Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries. The move by the Obama Administration enlarges the two adjoining sanctuaries by nearly 2,800 square miles, more than doubling their size. The boundaries now extend 50 miles north to Point Arena in Mendocino County.

The sanctuary expansion protects the region’s outstanding marine ecosystem, fisheries, and recreational areas from the threat of oil and gas drilling. The area is one of the most ecologically significant in the world and contains a diverse assemblage of marine life and habitats, as well as a major upwelling zone that provides critical nutrients for the existing sanctuaries to the south. 

The expansion also enhances marine science and education opportunities, and protects vital socioeconomic benefits. The coastline of interest is used by thousands of Surfrider members and supporters for a variety of activities including surfing, diving, kayaking, beachcombing, fishing, and aesthetic enjoyment. These recreational and tourism opportunities support many local businesses such as motels, restaurants, and shops. 

The decision by the federal government follows years of effort by coastal advocates, community leaders, and legislators to make the proposed expansion a reality. Surfrider chapters in the region were long-time champions of the concept, providing outreach to community members and submitting public and written comments in support.

Ocean Protection