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Jul 11 2017

National Marine Sanctuaries – No New Review Needed

By Founder and President Kurt Lieber

Ocean Defenders Alliance saves wildlife in National Marine SanctuaryHere in California, we hold our oceans in high regard and have gone to great lengths to legally protect our underwater world. The Channel Islands, Cordell Bank, the Greater Farallones, and Monterey Bay have all been designated as National Marine Sanctuaries (NMS).

These sanctuaries provide crucial habitat for our aquatic friends, like: whales, dolphins, turtles, seals, sea lions, and numerous other creatures that thrive in these designated areas. [Pictured at right: ODA's boat Clearwater at Arch Rock, Anacapa Island, in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.]

National Marine Sanctuaries are not off limits to the general public. They allow snorkelers, divers, boaters, swimmers, and fishermen (both recreational and commercial) to pursue their love of the oceans. The only things prohibited in these sanctuaries are: oil drilling, mining of the seabed, and ocean dumping.

Last month, the Trump administration gave notice that they intend to “review” the status of these sanctuaries with the goal of evaluating how much revenue is lost because no drilling, mining, or dumping can be done there. Not taking into account how much revenue is generated BECAUSE of the NMS status!  Nor how much revenue will be lost due to the impact on the current users of these sanctuaries.

By now it is obvious that this administration is doing all it can to open up our wilderness areas to all its friends in the extraction industries (oil, gas, and mining). 

As defenders of the oceans, I feel that we cannot sit by silently and watch them open up our beloved waters to these industries that have only one goal in mind: profit first.

ODA in Catalina harborYour Ocean Defenders removing 1,200 pound sailing mast that was crushing life on the ocean floor -- Lovers Cove, Catalina, a Marine Protected Area (MPA).

We have a short window of opportunity to make our voices heard. The Department of Commerce is taking comments until Wednesday, July 26th. When they announced their plan to review these sanctuaries, they gave us 60 days to comment claiming that when these designations were put in place, not enough time was given to evaluate all concerned parties.

Hogwash. Decades were spent creating the framework of these sanctuaries. All parties had their chance to make their concerns known. The Environmental Impact Statements were performed and Congress reviewed them for 60 days before the designations were enacted. 

We now have this brief time for our voices to be heard. PLEASE, take a few minutes to let the Department of Commerce hear how you feel about this issue. A few minutes on your part could have a lasting effect for our cherished National Marine Sanctuaries!

Here is a link to their comments section:

https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NOAA-NOS-2017-0066

Here is what I wrote.  Feel free to use it as you wish.

Our National Marine Sanctuaries provide critical habitat for millions of marine animals. Our coastal communities thrive on the bounty of these areas. Allowing oil and gas extraction, seabed mining, and ocean dumping will have drastically negative effects on every one who goes fishing, snorkeling, diving, boating, and whale watching. Not to mention the impact this will have on several endangered species including: blue whales, humpback whales, gray whales, giant seabass (to name just a few). The only parties that will benefit will be the extraction industries who are beholden to nothing but their profits. These sanctuaries have gone through decades of public hearings and negotiations. No review of our National Marine Sanctuaries is warranted.

Thank you for defending the oceans from right where you are!

Captain Kurt

 
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