The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary has a unique and valuable asset in the Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC). March 30 marked the one-year anniversary of the SAC which was formed to advise and assist the Sanctuary management on ways to achieve Sanctuary goals and to provide public input to the management process. The SAC and its working groups (Research, Conservation, Education) are composed of community members with a wide range of interests and backgrounds.
During the year ending March 31,1995, the SAC met 11 times in open public forum in communities up and down the Central Coast. According to the SAC's annual report, major issues addressed by the Council during the past year included:
User Fees: The SAC was adamantly opposed to and successfully fought proposed user fees within the Sanctuary; the result of the SAC's vote against user fees was unanimous. Instead, the SAC recommended the creation of a non-profit organization (next paragraph). The SAC also plans to document economic and environmental advantages that the Sanctuary brings to the area.
Non-Profit Organization: The Council strongly supported the establishment of a non-profit organization to help the Sanctuary raise funds and has received several presentations on ways to help augment the Sanctuary's budget. For example, the Council helped to secure legislation to establish the State's Monterey Bay Sanctuary License Plate Program.
Acoustic Thermometry of Ocean Climate (ATOC): The Council received a variety of information on ATOC, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography's project to measure global warming using high-intensity, low-frequency sounds. The three working groups reviewed the ATOC Draft Environmental Impact Study and submitted comments to the Council, which were forwarded to Washington as a package, with additional comments from the public at large.
Watsonville Waste Water Treatment Facility Grant: The Council sent a letter in support of the city's efforts to obtain funding for their waste water treatment facility.
Collection of Jade at Jade Cove: After several public hearings and months of study, the Council concluded that the Jade Cove community should have the right to remove pieces of jade for personal or artistic use, as long as no machinery is utilized. The Council voted to request NOAA to initiate a formal process to so modify the regulations.
Vessel Traffic Study: The Council held an in-depth public workshop and subsequently made specific recommendations to improve vessel traffic safety in the Sanctuary to avert possible spills and accidents.
Elephant Seals Near Piedras Blancas: Possible solutions were investigated to the problem of increased and dangerous interaction between elephant seals and humans at Piedras Blancas beaches.
Chumming for Shark: After hearing from a variety of groups on the topic of chumming for white sharks in the Sanctuary, the Council recommended that NOAA write regulations to prohibit this activity.
Noise in the Sanctuary: Concerns about the extent and impact of man-made noise in the Sanctuary were received; the issue will be a high priority item for the Council this year.
Activities of the working groups over the past year have included:
Research Activity Panel (RAP): evaluating research proposals; developing a list of researchers in the area; and providing the Council with input on ATOC, shark chumming, a Research Plan for the Sanctuary, and possible contamination by the army in the waters off Fort Ord.Conservation Working Group (CWG): keeping the Council up-to-date on issues including noise, ATOC, shark chumming, oil spill prevention, "thrill craft" use in the Sanctuary, water quality, and the impact of the 1995 floods.
Sanctuary Education Panel (SEP): evaluating education proposals; defining educational priorities; supporting teacher workshops and school programs; and assisting with the design and locations of the new interpretive signs for the Sanctuary.
Members of the public are encouraged to attend Sanctuary Advisory Council meetings which are usually held the fourth Friday of every month. For further information call Karin Strasser Kauffman, (Chair, Sanctuary Advisory Council) at 659-2733 or Jane DeLay at the Sanctuary office, (408) 647-4246.
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Last modified on: June 14,