A resolution by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors opposing the creation of the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary is being hailed by a host of California groups and residents of all backgrounds. The resolution affects a new national marine sanctuary being considered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of National Marine Sanctuaries which, if designated, could impose restrictions on fishing activities in an area stretching from Cambria to Gaviota Creek in Santa Barbara.
“We are proud to have been a part of this effort and to have worked with a vast array of groups to keep a bit of common sense in the discussions on how to manage this area,” said Wayne Kotow, executive director of the California Chapter of Coastal Conservation Association (CCA CAL). “We greatly appreciate the thoughtful process employed by the Board in this decision, and we look forward to staying engaged on all future discussions that might impact public access to these marine areas.”
More than a third of California’s coast already falls into one of three existing sanctuaries. The proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary would put a continuous stretch of more than half of California’s coast under the governance of federal marine sanctuaries. Existing sanctuaries in California have a poor record of working with local fishermen and even though the three existing sanctuaries lack authority to regulate fishing, they have propounded federal regulations expressly regulating fishing activities.
At a meeting yesterday, San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Debbie Arnold proposed the resolution to oppose the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary which ultimately passed by a vote of 3-2. In comments submitted to the Board, CCA CAL confirmed its long-standing support of the actions contained in Arnold’s resolution.
“The coastline of San Luis Obispo County deserves protection from activities that would despoil its beauty and value. Fortunately, as the Resolution already notes, multiple layers of federal, state and local laws already serve to protect California’s coast without the need for a federal marine sanctuary designation. Creating a new marine sanctuary will merely add a further layer of governance and bureaucracy and additional burdens to recreational users of the marine environment,” Bill Shedd, president of AFTCO and chairman of CCA CAL, stated in a letter to the Board.
“This is a step in the right direction, but efforts to create off-limits sanctuaries tend to keep coming back,” said Kotow. “We are committed to working with this growing coalition of our fellow fishermen, fish processors, marina operators, concerned citizens, state-based advocates and national groups to guard against ceding any more control of our coast to this sanctuary process.”