Press Release of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer

For Immediate Release:
May 6, 2008  
Washington D.C. Office (202) 224-3553

Senator Boxer Discusses Marine Sanctuaries Bill During Commerce Subcommittee Hearing on Oceans Oversight  

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today discussed legislation she is sponsoring to expand marine sanctuaries off the California coast in a hearing before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard.

The legislation, which passed the House in March, would permanently protect the coastal waters and estuaries of Sonoma County and portions of Mendocino County by extending the boundaries of the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries.

The following are her remarks as prepared for delivery:

Thank you Chairwoman Cantwell and Ranking Member Snowe, and Chairman Inouye and Ranking Member Stevens, for including the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries Boundary Modification and Protection Act in today’s hearing.

This important bill would protect one of the world’s most biologically-diverse and productive marine regions.

I am proud to be joined in this effort by Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey and Senator Dianne Feinstein, and pleased that this bill passed the House of Representatives in March by voice vote.

This photo of the Sonoma Coast shows how truly spectacular and pristine this area is.

Established in 1980 and 1989 respectively, the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries have helped protect the special marine waters and coastline that are quintessentially Californian.

My bill will protect an even greater part of my State’s coast by expanding the sanctuaries’ boundaries to include more of northern California’s great “upwelling” marine area, one of only four on the planet.

Upwelling areas are places where deeper water comes up to the surface, bringing the nutrients needed by marine algae to grow and support all higher forms of marine life.

Though upwelling areas comprise only 1 percent of the world’s ocean they produce 20 percent of its fish—that’s right, 20 percent.

The area from Point Arena to Bodega Bay—currently OUTSIDE the sanctuaries’ boundaries—is particularly important since it consistently has the most intense upwelling in all of North America—and an enormous capacity to support marine life.

I am proud that my bill will expand the sanctuaries’ boundaries to protect this upwelling area.

The unique productivity of this region is illustrated by the abundance and diversity of marine life it supports: 36 species of marine mammals, including the endangered blue and humpback whales; numerous coastal and migratory seabirds including the black-footed albatross; endangered leatherback turtles; and Coho salmon.

Expanding the existing sanctuaries to include this area is necessary to protect this remarkable ecosystem from pollution and habitat degradation.

My bill has broad, local support, including from: the California Coastal Commission, the California State Lands Commission, the Counties of Sonoma, Marin, and Mendocino and the City of San Francisco.

It is also supported by fishermen, including the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, by far the largest and most active association of commercial fishermen on the West Coast.

Fishermen recognize the urgency of passing this legislation to preserve the water quality and habitat essential for good fishing.

My bill will help preserve an incomparable gem of an ecosystem. I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this important legislation.