Monterey Bay, rich in marine habitats and life, has attracted marine scientists for many years. The first marine research facility, Hopkins Marine Station, was founded in 1892. Since then, 11 other major marine research stations have sprung up around the bay, as well as 12 other smaller facilities. From Doc Ricketts plunging his hands into the chilly Pacific tidepools to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute sending unmanned submersibles down into the deep submarine canyon, Monterey has a long history of marine research.
It was partially in recognition of this rich history of research, as well as the potential for even greater projects, that the greater Monterey Bay area was designated a national marine sanctuary. When it became evident that the 15 years of hard work people had put into creating the sanctuary was finally going to pay off, prominent marine scientists in the area met to discuss what impact this would have on future marine research.
That group of scientists, now called the Research Working Group, continues to meet and advise the staff on issues regarding research within the sanctuary. The group is made up of 21 members representing all of the marine science institutions around the sanctuary, as well as the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, the California State Assembly Office of Research, the marine mammal research community, and the Sanctuary and Reserves Division of NOAA.
"I view our role as one of advising management," Chair Greg Cailliet said, "and we hope to encourage the exchange of information, compile data resources and administer a research program." One of the group's crowning achievements this year was the completion of a research management plan for the sanctuary. It is the first research management plan for any of the 14 national marine sanctuaries, establishing sanctuary research priorities and identifying research needs. The plan is the result of a lot of hard work and thoughtful advice by scientists from the many different institutions around the bay.
Though the Research Working Group takes an active role in encouraging and evaluating research in the sanctuary, they are not directly involved with issuing permits to conduct research. Permits must be obtained by researchers if their project involves some activity that is normally prohibited by sanctuary regulations. The group may either advise for or against issuing a permit for a research project, but in the end the final permit is issued through NOAA's Sanctuaries and Reserves Division.
Cailliet and other group members strongly believe the formation of the Research Working Group has improved communication between institutions and thereby increased the potential for more cooperative research. "We were always friends," Cailliet said, "but now we really communicate."
In particular, Cailliet is thankful for the advice of group member Jim Rote, principal consultant to the California State Assembly Office of Research. "He has been instrumental in connecting us to the state process," Cailliet said. "It has made a huge difference."
Cailliet is excited about what the future may hold. "We can only hope that the dreams we all have for this sanctuary will come true. I am certain the research community will ultimately benefit and that the public will learn much more about the Monterey Bay area and its marine ecology." It is his hope that researchers and the public alike will continue to work towards that goal.
Be sure to check future newsletters for information about ongoing research in the sanctuary. If you would like more immediate information, please contact Aaron King at the sanctuary office at (408) 647-4257.
Managing a marine sanctuary the size of Connecticut is not an easy task. Tending the 5,300 square miles of water is difficult enough, yet impacts on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary are not limited to activities within its geographic boundaries. Numerous rivers drain into the sanctuary and the quality of water flowing from those rivers can't help but influence the quality of the sanctuary's coastal ocean water. Local, state and federal agencies are all interested in maintaining a healthy sanctuary. As a result, in January of this year, over 100 water quality experts and government agency heads met in Monterey to discuss ways of managing the nation's largest marine sanctuary from a watershed perspective.
The three-day meeting was the first of a series of Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) workshops intended to take a more holistic approach to managing water quality in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Experts representing over 40 different governmental agencies, many of whom had never met each other, came together to identify potential water quality issues and recommend management strategies. Though there were some problems, overall, the process seemed effective and gave concrete results.
"In the past water quality experts have focused on their individual regions," Environmental Scientist Pat Cotter said, "now we're attempting to broaden the focus and begin working together." The process being implemented in Monterey was first developed in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. As one of the first marine sanctuaries with a wide range of users, the Florida Keys had many diverse viewpoints and was in need of some process to resolve water quality issues. The ICM process allowed the many divergent viewpoints to be heard and enabled the Florida water quality experts to develop a management strategy with which most users felt comfortable.
Upon designation of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in September 1992, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) encouraged the development of an ICM program for sanctuary water quality management. Eight federal, state and local agencies signed a Memorandum of Agreement to protect and improve the water quality of the sanctuary. The agencies include NOAA, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency, State Water Resources Control Board, San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board, Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, California Coastal Commission, and the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments. More than 20 other regulatory and resource agencies have joined these eight agencies to form a Water Quality Protection Plan team that will identify pollution problems and strategies to protect and improve sanctuary water quality.
The original ICM Core Group invited 150 local water quality experts to the January '94 workshop to help identify problems and recommend management options. NOAA's Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) Division developed a workbook with environmental information and worksheets to guide managers and experts during the three days of discussions at the workshop. Using many of the same techniques they had developed in Florida, SEA helped steer the direction of the workshop.
The result was a list of 28 water quality issues, six generalized sources and over 140 management strategies. SEA is presently preparing a document that summarizes and evaluates the results of the meeting.
According to most of the participants, the meeting was a success. Frustrations were to be expected in working with a new system, so for the future, organizers plan to adjust the process to meet the needs of the participants.
"Learning to work with this process is not going to be something that happens overnight," Sanctuary Manager Terry Jackson said. "Everybody has to be able to provide information and management options. Flexibility and participation are key." Such flexibility becomes even more important as experts become increasingly aware of how inter-related all human activities are with the health of the ocean. Such far reaching impacts makes the process to identify and manage those issues more and more complicated.
A copy of SEA's summary document will be available from the sanctuary office this summer. For more information about the ICM program, call Stephen Laughlin at the sanctuary office at (408) 647-4253.
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Last modified on: June 14,