Marine Sanctuary Expansion Puts New Damper on Offshore Drilling

Under the expansion, Shell Beach in Sonoma will become a new intertidal monitoring site that middle and high school students can explore. (Monika Krach/Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association)

Fifty additional miles of Northern California coast will be protected from oil drilling, as of Tuesday.

The federal government has doubled the size of two marine sanctuaries off the Sonoma and Mendocino coasts -- the largest expansion of national marine sanctuaries in California in 20 years.

Harbor seals emerge out of the water to rest or breed along the shores of the expansion area of Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.
Harbor seals emerge out of the water to rest or breed in the expansion area of Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. (Bob Talbot)

The renamed Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary grows from 1,811 square miles to 4,581 square miles

The area -- from the Farallon Islands, north to Mendocino -- is home to humpback whales, harbor and elephant seals, and thousands of shorebirds.

The expansion prohibits offshore oil drilling and was widely supported via public comments and hearings, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Sponsored

The move comes after decades of lobbying in Congress, but becomes official  just weeks after a large oil spill in Santa Barbara that has renewed concerns about offshore drilling.

"This is somewhat of a coincidence," says Richard Charter with The Ocean Foundation.  "The good news happens today against the backdrop of all the bad news coming out of southern California right now."california-marine-sanctuary-expansion-map

David Helvarg, Executive Director of the environmental group Blue Frontier Campaign, said marine sanctuaries are an unparalleled way to protect the marine ecosystem.

"They are like a world class park system in the water column, " he says.

Sponsored

The new area will still allow commercial and recreational fishing and cruising.

Volume
KQED Live
Live Stream
Log In ToPledge-Free Stream
LATEST NEWSCAST
KQED
NPR
Live Stream information currently unavailable.
Share
LATEST NEWSCAST
KQED
NPR
KQED Live

Live Stream

Live Stream information currently unavailable.