Meeting Schedule: The Sanctuary Advisory Council now meets for a full day on the first Friday of every other month (February, April, June, August, October, December). It has adopted a yearly plan for in-depth discussion of certain agenda topics, including education, research, enforcement, business and tourism, public relations, and the Water Quality Protection Program.
New Members: The application process for new SAC members took place in late 1997. New members will be sworn in at the SAC meeting on February 6th.
Sanctuary Superintendent: The Council has been eager to have a new Sanctuary Superintendent in place at the earliest possible date. In the summer of 1997 the Council met with representatives from the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management and Sanctuaries and Reserves Division and provided advice on the selection process.
Coastal Legislation: The SAC has established a Legislative Task Force to monitor the "flotilla" of California coastal legislation. The purpose of the Task Force is to review legislation, educate the Council, and make recommendations to the SAC regarding proposed bills.
Sanctuary Vessel Traffic: The Council is participating in frequent inter-agency workshops (sponsored by the Coast Guard and NOAA) being held to provide for safer vessel traffic within Sanctuary waters. The issue of water contamination from vessel traffic accidents has been identified by the Council as the number one threat facing the Sanctuary.
Kelp Harvesting/Aquaculture Practices: The Council has worked with marine businesses on kelp harvesting and aquaculture practices within Sanctuary waters. The Council is encouraging all harvesters to work together to develop a single signed-off agreement which will clearly outline harvesting practices. All parties are coordinating with the California Department of Fish and Game to resolve potential conflicts.
Miscellaneous Sanctuary Issues: The Council continues to tackle critical issues relating to the Sanctuary and Sanctuary resources. Recently, it dealt with tree-fishing practices, dredging issues in Santa Cruz harbor, the Sanctuary permit process, and enforcement issues.
In the second half of 1997, SEP members heard presentations by the Santa Cruz Inter-Agency Task Force on a proposed MBNMS/Santa Cruz multi-use Sanctuary Trail to unify the Sanctuary waterfront and promote Sanctuary awareness, as well as a proposed "Sanctuary Seal Program" which would encourage local businesses to increase their involvement with the Sanctuary. The SEP also heard presentations by staff from both the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute on aquarium education programs, including the Virtual Canyon Project, which involves teachers and students in the design, development and assessment of a prototype "electronic field trip" to the Monterey submarine canyon that is accessed through the World Wide Web.
Currently several SEP proposals and initiatives are underway, including a teacher certificate program that would offer a benefit to teachers while encouraging increased education about Sanctuary-related topics. Various proposals for the structure of such a program are still being discussed. SEP members are also actively involved in planning the Sanctuary Currents Symposium.
In the second half of 1997, the RAP continued to monitor activities and discussions surrounding the proposed Edward F. Ricketts Underwater Park. Key concerns of the group included that a monitoring program be established to measure the effectiveness of the proposed marine refuge.
The RAP also followed the progress of the "flotilla" of coastal legislation. Member Carolyn Pomeroy has provided the group with regular updates on the status of legislative action; she is also participating on a recently-established Legislative Task Force of the Sanctuary Advisory Council.
The RAP had presentations on and provided input to a number of projects, including: the new Sanctuary permitting system SPITS (Sanctuary Permits Information and Tracking); the latest ATOC (Acoustic Thermometry of Ocean Climate) and LFS (Low Frequency Sound) experiments underway in Sanctuary waters; and a proposed video (by Kip Evans, MBNMS Education Specialist) to highlight the Monterey Bay region as a marine research center.
The RAP has completed an annotated bibliography on the impacts of sound to marine organisms with Sea Grant Fellow Michele Jacobi. The group has also forwarded a compilation of comments on abalone aquaculture issues to the California Coastal Commission, following a request by that agency, and is helping to coordinate El Nino research efforts via a special web site (thanks to MBNMS Program Specialist Aaron King). The RAP effort to study the Fort Ord exclusion zone is complete: the area is clear of military debris.
Several RAP members participated in research projects aboard the McArthur in the fall; others are involved in organizing the Sanctuary Currents Symposium.
Oil spill prevention and vessel traffic management were a key focus of the Conservation Working Group (CWG) meetings held this past summer and fall. Indeed, four members of the CWG (Rachel Saunders, Vicki Nichols, Ellen Faurot-Daniels, and David Iverson) were chosen by NOAA and the Coast Guard to participate in an interagency work group of agencies, industry groups, and environmental organizations to identify the most effective strategies for addressing this on-going threat.
The CWG also devoted several meetings to showcasing area volunteer monitoring and outreach programs, including the Center for Marine Conservation's BAY NET program, Save Our Shores' Sanctuary Steward and Dock Walkers programs, the Coastal Watershed Council's Clean Streams program, and the MBNMS' BeachCOMBERS program. Other issues presented and discussed at the CWG included pinniped-fisheries interactions, human-made sound impacts on marine organisms, oil spill response and coordination, marine aquaculture, and wetlands restoration at Fort Ord. CWG members also collaborated with the MBNMS in organizing and carrying out this fall's successful Sanctuary anniversary celebrations.