Bay National Marine Sanctuary Draft Kelp Managment Report
level of kelp harvest is an ongoing issue of great interest within the
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS or Sanctuary). In 1999,
the MBNMS Advisory Council identified kelp uses and management as one
of its top priority topics to address. Environmental concerns, as well
as multiple-use conflicts, have made this an issue of considerable public
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Ocean
Service (NOS), Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, has authority under
the National Marine Sanctuaries Act to promulgate MBNMS regulations governing
kelp harvesting. However, NOAA recognizes the historical authority of
the State of California to manage kelp resources, and prefers at this
time to work through that authority rather than issue its own regulations.
The MBNMS Kelp Management Report will be completed in the summer of 2000,
and result in a series of recommendations to the State of California.
California plans to complete its five-year State Kelp Management Plan
late in the fall of 2000.
The MBNMS is developing this document to formalize the MBNMS process for
developing Sanctuary views on kelp resource issues, while allowing the
State to maintain a single management regime for kelp resource use. On
January 14, 2000, the MBNMS released its first draft of the "MBNMS Kelp
Management Report: Background and Environmental Setting." Written public
comments on the first release of the document were sought until February
23, 2000. Additionally, the document was scheduled for discussion at eleven
public meetings. This is the second release of that document, referred
to as the "MBNMS Kelp Management Report: Background, Environmental Setting
and Draft Recommendations." After a public comment period on this release,
along with a series of public meetings on the matter, a final "MBNMS Kelp
Management Report" will be issued.
The MBNMS Kelp Management Report outlines the general environmental setting
of the MBNMS, including its general meteorological, oceanographic, geological,
nutrient and kelp forest characteristics. Sections of the already-completed
MBNMS Site Characterization were used to provide this information. The
MBNMS Kelp Management Report discusses what is known about kelp harvesting
in the MBNMS, as well as the known environmental impacts from the activity.
This review results in two conclusions:
kelp harvesting is done on a limited scale, there is generally little
detectable effect on the MBNMS kelp forest resources; and
- Few long
term studies exist that can determine the point at which intensive repetitious
harvesting, especially in a confined space,will begin to cause significant
Other social interests in, and uses of, kelp resources exist. However,
little is known about the environmental impacts of those uses. While many
of the recreational uses of kelp have never been studied extensively,
or at all, to determine their environmental effects on kelp forests, other
indirect anthropogenic effects have been clearly documented (e.g., sewage
spills and coastal nearshore developments).
Use conflicts between harvesters and recreational users/interests have
arisen over the past few years. One area along Cannery Row in Monterey
has been the venue of most of these conflicts. Socio-economic studies
that could help frame public discussion of this issue are lacking.
The MBNMS has been involved in kelp harvesting issues, especially those
of kelp resource use conflicts since about early 1996. MBNMS is now working
with the State of California to help resolve these conflicts, and address
public concerns through the California Kelp Management Plan.
Numerous comments were made to the MBNMS on its first release of the MBNMS
Kelp Management Report. The MBNMS responds to these comments in a "Comment
and Response" section of this document. Also in this document, the MBNMS
makes eight draft recommendations to California for the management of
kelp in the MBNMS. These draft recommendations cover the topics of:
Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) analysis of State funding requirements
and revenues for kelp management, with recommendations for use of potential
of no-kelp harvest areas along Cannery Row in Monterey;
of most mechanical harvesting north of Point Lobos;
of the Monterey Kelp Cooperative as the exclusive harvester for DFG
Kelp Bed #220;
- A ban
on hand-harvesting of Nereocystis in the MBNMS;
- A recommendation
of a statewide 50% kelp bed canopy per year cutting clause in State
regulations to reduce the possibility of excessive harvests;
- A call
to evaluate the feasibility of kelp enhancement studies;
kelp harvest data per bed (leased or open) remain available to the public
on an ongoing basis; and
of beds north of Año Nuevo in the MBNMS that are not large enough
to sustain a reasonable harvest level.
is concluded by laying out thirteen areas for future research efforts
in kelp forest utilization and management, as well as general anthropogenic
effects. Through a series of topics related to this draft Report, the
public is also given guidance on how to most effectively provide comments
to the MBNMS.