IV: CONSEQUENCES OF ALTERNATIVES
IV. Consequences of Alternatives
Alternative A: No Action (Status Quo)
This alternative would maintain the status quo of no jade collection activities permitted within the Sanctuary. The jade resource would be protected from human activities but would continue to be eroded and worn by natural forces.
This alternative would keep the anthropogenic effects on the marine environment reduced. Jade would continue to be protected from human impacts and would be subject only to natural forces. No impacts to other Sanctuary resources would result from this alternative.
As the prohibition against jade collection has been in place since 1993, no new adverse socioeconomic impacts would result from this alternative. There do not appear to be any persons who rely solely on jade from Jade Cove for their livelihood. For those who do use jade for commercial purposes, jade may be obtained from market sources, or upland collection sites in the Jade Cove area, outside of the Sanctuary boundary. These upland sites are subject to appropriate approval from the U.S. Forest Service.
Alternative B (Preferred Alternative): Amend the Management Plan and regulations to allow: (1) limited, small scale collection of loose pieces of jade under certain conditions, and (2) collection of larger pieces of loose jade pursuant to a Sanctuary permit.
This alternative, which is the preferred alternative, would provide a two-part exception to the regulatory prohibitions against exploring for, developing or producing oil, gas or minerals, and alteration of the seabed. This alternative would allow small-scale collection of loose pieces of jade that would otherwise naturally disintegrate and will have at most a de minimis effect on the jade resource, a non-living resource. The jade collected from the Sanctuary must be loose, meaning that natural wave or storm action has already completely separated the stone from the seabed. Stones that remain attached to the seafloor (e.g., wedged under another rock or overhang, or embedded in rock) are considered part of the seabed and are not loose. A Sanctuary permit may possibly be obtained for collection of larger pieces of loose jade in a manner that has a negligible impact on other Sanctuary resources (e.g., benthic habitat and communities). Collection of loose pieces of jade in the Sanctuary is generally consistent with the manner in which most jade was collected prior to Sanctuary designation. Under no circumstances will NOAA allow the use of pneumatic, mechanical, electrical, hydraulic or explosive tools for collection of jade. For these reasons, NOAA has selected this alternative as its preferred alternative.
The jade resource would not be degraded, since collection would be limited to pieces that have been dislodged by natural forces and would otherwise naturally disintegrate. Loose jade collection as described under the first part of this alternative would have at most a de minimis effect on the non-living jade resource and would not destroy, cause the loss of, or injure other resources and qualities of the MBNMS. Similarly, removal of jade under a Sanctuary permit would also have at most a de minimis effect on Sanctuary resources since removal of larger loose stones would be subject to a case by case review during the permit application process and monitoring once and if a permit is issued. Further, NOAA would not issue a permit to allow excavation or mining of the jade resource, or the collection of larger loose pieces that support important components of the benthic community.
This alternative could result in increased tourism at Jade Cove. Further, there is the potential for increased diving activities in the Jade Cove area. However, although this area is well-known to regional dive clubs, it is also well-known that dive conditions are hazardous during the best of times and, therefore, it is unlikely that this alternative would result in significant increased diving activities in the area. There may be some small positive impacts for local collectors and artisans. This alternative would facilitate a recreational use of coastal resources by allowing limited, small-scale jade collection within a small portion of the Sanctuary. Furthermore, this alternative fosters a low-impact use by the general public that offers opportunities for educational programs concerning marine geology and habitat within the Sanctuary, compatible with resource protection.
Positive socioeconomic effects could result because persons could be permitted to take larger amounts of jade. However, such benefits would be limited because any collection would be restricted to loose pieces of jade. Thus, for example, while a commercial entity could apply for a permit to collect loose pieces of jade, NOAA would not authorize the excavation or mining of the jade resource.
Alternative C: Amend the Sanctuary regulations to allow jade collection activities without limits on amount or methods.
This alternative would allow collection of jade without limits on methods or amounts. This would exempt jade collection from both the prohibition against exploring for, developing or producing oil, gas, or minerals, and alteration of the seabed. However, current State law would remain in force and anyone collecting jade must comply with State requirements for jade collection.
This alternative is considered unacceptable because it would have significant adverse effects on the Jade Cove area and the Sanctuary in the following manner:
- could result in commercial mining operations that are incompatible with Sanctuary mandates;
- significant adverse alteration of the seabed beyond natural processes;
- great risk of injury, loss or destruction of other Sanctuary resources and habitat in the area including benthic life, by jade removal (including transportation techniques) (e.g., use of machinery); and
- higher impacts on the jade resource itself, including unlimited take of jade in any form and in any manner.
Therefore, this alternative would result in the most significant adverse environmental impacts because it would allow unlimited, unrestricted collection of jade, subject to the requirements of State law. The jade resource could be depleted, and other Sanctuary resources and habitat would be exposed to great risk of adverse impact from the use of the intrusive methods.
This alternative could result in increased tourism and/or increased commercial jade collection at Jade Cove. Further, there is the potential for increased diving activities in the Jade Cove area. The lack of any collection restrictions could facilitate commercial incentives sufficient to increase dive activities in the area, despite rigorous diving conditions common at Jade Cove. Positive socioeconomic effects could result because persons could be permitted to take larger amounts and pieces than in Alternative B. Further, a commercial entity could freely remove jade, although any commercial mining would have to be permitted by the State. Increased tourism and collection activity at Jade Cove could cause negative aesthetic changes such as increased coastal debris and alteration of beach, tidal, and subtidal areas.