Dedicated in 1992, the Monterey Bay National Marine
Sanctuary is the largest of thirteen sanctuaries nationwide
managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Encompassing more than 5,300
square miles of water, its boundaries stretch along the central California coast from the Marin County headlands south to Cambria. The sanctuary features many diverse communities, including wave-swept beaches, lush kelp forests, and one
of the deepest underwater canyons in North America. An
abundance of life, from tiny plankton to huge blue whales,
thrives in these waters.
Our mission -- to understand and protect the coastal ecosystem and cultural resources of central California -- is carried out through the work of four program divisions: resource protection, education and outreach, research, and program operations. A
summary of each program’s major accomplishments and activities for 2004 follows. This year’s report also includes a review of activities surrounding the Joint Management Plan Review (JMPR).
Resource protection issues involve a wide range of habitats, species, and human impacts -- reflecting the sanctuary’s multiple uses and its connection to a long coastline and to nearby watersheds. The resource protection team works closely with a variety
of partners to initiate and carry out strategies to reduce or prevent detrimental human impacts on sanctuary resources.
|Erica Burton participates in the First Flush event at Steinbeck Plaza in Monterey. photo Alan Bilinsky
Work continued on the evaluation of the potential for marine protected areas (MPAs) to conserve habitats and ecological
functions. The sanctuary is coordinating the ongoing efforts of a multi-stakeholder work group composed of agencies, scientists, environmental organizations, fishermen, and other ocean users.
The group’s initial work has focused on compilation of literature and maps on habitats and ecological functions, refinement of
conservation goals for MPAs, and socioeconomic analyses of
fisheries by gear types, ports, and target species.
Following through on a recommendation in the JMPR, staff developed and presented a detailed analysis and recommendation
to the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) to ban krill harvesting in the three central coast sanctuaries. Krill -- small, shrimp-like organisms -- are one of the central prey items in the sanctuary’s ecosystem and are fed upon by a wide range of whales, seabirds, and fishes. (See p. 9.) The recommendation to ban the harvest of these organisms was very favorably received, and
PFMC is investigating the most effective means to enact such a
ban throughout West Coast federal waters.
The Water Quality Protection Program and its many partners continued efforts in the watersheds to reduce contaminated runoff to the sanctuary. Carrying out the sanctuary’s Agriculture and
Rural Lands Plan, staff at the Sanctuary Foundation, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, County Farm Bureaus, and others have collaborated with local farmers and ranchers in twenty-three watershed working groups. These joint efforts have included water quality training courses in four counties and targeted efforts to improve sediment, nitrate, and pesticide management. Detailed watershed assessments identifying pollutant sources were completed for the Pescadero-Butano and Pajaro watersheds and can be used to help target future efforts. (See p. 12.) In our local cities, we conducted six technical training workshops with public works and planning staff on management practices to reduce contaminants
in urban runoff as well as a training on best management practices for private construction companies operating on the coast.
|Volunteers are trained for First Flush by sampling the storm drain before the first rains at San Carlos Beach. photo Warren Yogi
The resource protection team worked closely with the research
team to host a workshop on water quality monitoring in the sanctuary that identified existing programs and opportunities for enhanced coordination. They also made the data summaries of most known programs available on the Internet via the Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network (SIMoN) web site. Efforts to use trained volunteers to monitor water quality continued under
the Sanctuary Citizen Watershed Monitoring Network. The network initiated a new monitoring effort in Salinas, sampling three creeks for both urban and agricultural contaminants. Our annual Snapshot Day monitoring event has continued to grow, this year with more than 200 volunteers monitoring water quality contaminants such as nutrients and bacteria from Pacifica to Morro Bay. The fifth annual First Flush, a volunteer event to monitor contaminants flushed off streets by the first heavy rains, took place in the fall. It involved more than seventy trained volunteers in Pacific Grove, Monterey, Capitola, Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay, and -- for the first time -- Seaside. Staff worked with local cities and counties to use the data gathered to identify sources, reduce contamination levels, improve permit programs, and target public education.
The team initiated a variety of additional workshops on critical sanctuary issues. These included a workshop (co-hosted with the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments) on desalination that attracted more than 200 participants who gathered to discuss existing and proposed facilities, the need for regional planning,
and ways to reduce impacts to sanctuary resources. (For more information on desalination, see p. 22.)
Enforcement staff received several hundred notifications of potential sanctuary violations and investigated a wide variety of incidents (see p. 24). Wildlife disturbance, ranging from lethal injury to physical displacement, continues to top the list of cases investigated. There were eleven reported vessel groundings/sinkings (see p. 24), which often involved the potential for debris and fuel spills, in the sanctuary. Raw sewage spills from land were
the most prevalent type of larger discharge into the sanctuary, ranging in individual volume from fifty to 121,000 gallons in 2004.
We received several reports of large commercial vessels operating outside of shipping lanes established within the sanctuary by
the International Maritime Organization to reduce the risk of
oil spills. Also, a container ship lost fifteen large cargo containers overboard within the sanctuary during 2004. The sanctuary enforcement officer and resource protection staff investigated
these violations, followed up with responsible parties to address the violations, and identified ways to prevent them in the future -- in coordination with a variety of state, federal, and local agencies.
The resource protection team also reviewed fifty permit requests this year, issuing permits or authorizations for activities such as seabed disturbance, discharges to the sanctuary, and overflights below 1,000 feet in restricted zones. Various conditions are imposed on these types of activities in order to reduce or eliminate threats to the sanctuary. Staff also reviewed and commented on a variety of projects and plans under development by others to ensure that they adequately protected sanctuary resources, with a particular focus
this year on the growing number of seawalls along our coast.
As we head into 2005, the team looks forward to continuing our partnership efforts with federal, state, and local agencies; industries such as agriculture and fishing; environmental groups; scientists; and citizens throughout the region to protect sanctuary resources.
The education and outreach team, along with the rest of the sanctuary’s staff, has spent the majority of the past year planning new programs, activities, and facilities to address the issues and action plans developed for the JMPR.
|Spanish-speaking families learn about rocky shore life and how to protect it during a
MERITO tidepool field experience. photo Michelle Templeton for NOAA/MBNMS
For our team, this planning encompassed an evaluation of everything from our education mission to the expansion of our multicultural program and exploring innovative ways to address new and sometimes sensitive issues. The education team is proud to share our updated mission, which we feel better reflects what we try to accomplish each day: To promote understanding, support, and participation in the protection and conservation of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. This mission, like our new action plans, takes a more participatory approach to getting people involved in ocean conservation. The sanctuary’s management plan is undergoing historic change and has already provided the public with a wonderful opportunity to participate. As we move into the new year, we will continue to encourage strong participation in the sanctuary and its endeavors, as now reflected by our new mission.
The thrust of this new mission reflects the purpose of the multicultural program, MERITO (Multicultural Education for Resource Issues Threatening Oceans), which currently serves our large Spanish-speaking community. Because of MERITO’s success here in Watsonville, Pajaro, and Salinas, our national program supported its expansion to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. We conducted a needs assessment to identify what kinds of MERITO programs we could export as well as what new programs we need to develop. This assessment,
so critical to effective program development here, will ensure equally successful programming in Santa Barbara.
|MERITO bilingual volunteer Ivan Uriostegui interprets watershed protection to
students at the Santa Cruz County Fair in Watsonville. photo Lisa Emanuelson for NOAA/MBNMS
Expansion also occurred in the sanctuary’s TeamOCEAN kayak/naturalist program, which swelled to more than fifty
volunteers this year, allowing the possibility to add this interpretive enforcement effort in Santa Cruz next year.
We organized two major events: the annual Sanctuary Currents Symposium, "Clean Waters, Healthy Oceans" focused on water quality issues, while the "Fishermen’s Fiesta" celebrated the fishing community and its contribution to the history and economy of Monterey Bay.
Both water quality and maritime heritage are themes that will
be showcased in exhibits planned for the new Santa Cruz and San Simeon visitor centers. The San Simeon center is well underway, after an overhaul of the existing building and office space. The exhibit designs have been finalized, and fabrication has commenced. Planning for the Santa Cruz center is off to a solid start, also, after an extensive search to identify the architectural and interpretive design firms. The City of Santa Cruz is a critical partner and has participated in the planning process since its inception, bringing prime ocean front property and critical urban planning expertise to the table.
In order to maximize the impact of all the new program ideas generated by the extensive JMPR planning, our team has begun to develop a series of planning and assessment tools for several of the more complex issues in the management plan. We will use these newly developed tools to determine how best to go about creating several new outreach campaigns related to the issues the sanctuary is now preparing to address.
The past year of planning has set us up for success in 2005, and we look forward to implementing the many new programs, projects, and facilities so carefully crafted this year.
Sanctuary Reflections Awards
|Presented at the 2004 Sanctuary Currents Symposium:
|Ruth Vreeland Public Official: Ruth Vreeland
|Citizen: Phil and Carole Adams, Cambria
|Conservation: Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Management Plan Review Process
|Education: Pat Clark-Gray, California Department of
Parks and Recreation
|Science/Research: Dr. Pete Raimondi, University of
California Santa Cruz
|Business: Cannery Row Company, Monterey
|Organization: Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation
|Special Recognition: Dr. Steve Webster, Monterey
Each day our research staff interprets scientific information on a variety of topics. A tremendous amount of information about the sanctuary is available, but it can be difficult to find and is often
in a format that’s not easily understood. Requests for information on sanctuary resources come from sanctuary staff to guide them
in developing policy on management issues as well as from the media, politicians, educators, students, scientists around the world, and the general public. We make information available through
our web sites (sanctuary: www.montereybay.noaa.gov; SIMoN: www.mbnms-simon.org;), publications, and through direct communication. We also speak to community groups and give talks at national and international conferences. For example, we spoke at the International Cable Protection Committee in Cannes, France about our collaborative study on the impacts of an undersea cable between Half Moon Bay and Pioneer Seamount. We serve on numerous committees, like the National Invasive Species Council, to help in the development of science-based policy. Clearly there
is a growing interest and need to apply science to resource management, and our research team has taken a leadership role in this important activity.
|A Pacific Giant Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) was seen off Point Pinos in August at a depth of 65 meters during sanctuary seafloor monitoring surveys using the Delta submersible. photo R. Lea/NOAA
Often, we report on research done by our colleagues at other research institutions, but we conduct our own field research as well. The SIMoN web site lists a growing number of research
projects, providing summary information as well as basic habitat descriptions and related educational links for students and
educators. This year we added a water quality theme to our
interactive maps. Now users can view the locations of water
monitoring projects, generate maps in a printable format, and
view recent and historical data through dynamic links to the
agencies collecting the information. Regular visitors to the site simply click on "What's New" to view the latest information on
a variety of topics, ranging from plankton blooms to NOAA
aerial images of elevation contours in Elkhorn Slough. Also
posted is information on our latest research projects, such as our studies
on removal of the invasive kelp, Undaria, in Monterey Harbor and kelp forest surveys of the Big Sur coast in relation to Highway 1 maintenance.
Three research areas that received significant attention this year were habitat mapping (see p. 8), Elkhorn Slough (see pp. 13 and 21), and ocean observing systems (see p. 11). While California State University Monterey Bay (funded by SIMoN) mapped nearshore sanctuary areas using sonar
techniques, our staff characterized the seafloor with a video camera sled towed from NOAA ships. As a result of these efforts, we have been able to develop
a clearer picture of the tapestry that makes up the sanctuary’s seafloor: large fields of a variety of organisms blanket mud,
sand, and rocks. Having access to this information is critical in guiding important management decisions, such as the location
and impacts of marine reserves, desalination outfall pipes, and
|Researchers conduct surveys along the Big Sur coast to learn about the effects of landslides on nearshore habitats. photo Steve Lonhart for NOAA/MBNMS
Eight cross-disciplinary teams met at a SIMoN-sponsored
workshop to discuss recent findings in Elkhorn Slough on water flow models, habitat changes, water quality, and biological surveys.
This information is critical to informing a tidal wetland plan process to develop a vision of habitat needs for the long-term
stewardship of slough wildlife.
Finally, we are involved in a national priority to develop ocean observatories, where measurements are taken "around the clock"
to protect human lives, property, and natural resources. Interest- ingly, eight marine regions around the nation are going to develop
independent observatories based on regional abilities and needs. Therefore, our understanding of the types of product required to address specific ocean issues is critical to this effort.
Our Research Program has a dedicated and hard working team; however, we are effective only because of the tremendous science capabilities of our region. The greater Monterey Bay area has a very high density of research institutions, with many capabilities unrivaled throughout the world. Our efforts are supported by
information sharing and generous research collaboration with
some of the best scientists in the world and the bright young
students and colleagues they mentor. We all benefit from this unique component of our regional community.
|Joint Management Plan Review |
This sanctuary, along with Cordell Bank and the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries, continues to update a
joint management plan, known as the Joint Management Plan Review (JMPR). For each sanctuary, this includes a review of
current and future priorities for resource protection, education,
and research programs; the program’s resource and staffing needs; regulatory goals; and sanctuary boundaries. After nearly three
years of public input, issue prioritization, and recommendations from the Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC), the sanctuary is close to releasing a draft management plan and draft environmental impact statement.
In 2004 staff incorporated recommendations from the SAC,
prepared budgets, identified performance measures, and worked to complete an environmental impact statement. During the summer, staff worked closely with the council to prioritize the significant increase in work load associated with the implementation of
twenty-five action plans identified in the new management plan. These plans address the following issues:
- Coastal armoring
- Harbors and dredge disposal
- Submerged cables
- Bottom trawling effects on benthic habitats
- Big Sur coastal ecosystem plan
- Davidson Seamount
- Emerging issues
- Introduced species
- Special marine protected areas
- Operations and administration
- Fishing-related education and research
- Performance evaluation
- Interpretive facilities
- Multicultural education
- Beach closures and microbial contamination
- Cruise ship discharges
- Water Quality Protection Program implementation
- Marine mammal, seabird, and turtle disturbance
- Motorized personal watercraft
- Tidepool protection
- Ecosystem monitoring
- Maritime heritage and
- submerged cultural resources
- Community outreach
The National Marine Sanctuaries Act requires each sanctuary
to review its management plan periodically, ensuring that it will continue to conserve, protect, and enhance nationally significant living and cultural resources. Draft management plans, proposed regulations, and a draft environmental impact statement are scheduled for release to the public in late spring of 2005. Following
their release, the sanctuaries will hold public hearings in several locations throughout the region to gather public comment. For more information about the JMPR, please visit www.sanctuaries.nos.noaa.gov/jointplan/.
Our program operations team continued to provide daily support for the education, research, and resource protection teams to
help keep programs running smoothly and effectively. Program Operations involves a myriad of responsibilities, including facil-ities management, computer network and web site development, media and public relations, diving and boat operations, SAC
liaison, and overall financial administration. Here are a few highlights from 2004:
A project to expand outreach to the southern region with partner agency California State Parks was finalized, resulting in an agreement to establish a new sanctuary office and visitor center at the William R. Hearst Memorial State Park in San Simeon. While
the office is now operational, we look forward to the interpretive
facility opening by late 2005.
Working closely with national headquarters and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary staff, we began designing a new 65-foot West Coast research vessel. Based on the Channel Islands catamaran Shearwater, the vessel will be an important asset to the sanctuary program and larger community, enabling our staff and collaborating institutions to conduct ecosystem-based research, monitoring, and education addressing critical resource manage-ment issues. Delivery of the vessel to Monterey is set for March 2006.
As part of a new Memorandum of Agreement with California State University Monterey Bay, we developed an internship program and hosted five college interns during the summer. Three
students worked with staff on topics such as water quality monitoring, web site development, and marine debris (focused on abandoned fishing gear). In addition, two other students -- from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and University of California San Diego -- investigated newly emerging resource
protection issues. We hope to continue providing support for
college students through this new partnership.
|Delivery of the new research vessel Fulmar is set for March 2006. NOAA/MBNMS
Working side by side with the SAC, we prioritized twenty-five action plans under the new management plan, slated for finalization in 2005. Other topics addressed by the council included a National Marine Fisheries Service presen-
tation regarding Department of Defense actions, the Northern Management Area, and discussion of the partnership with the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments. Several changes in council membership occurred. New members sworn in were: Margaret Webb and Robert Frischmuth (At-large), Howard Egan (Fishing alternate), Steve Shimek (Conservation alternate), Nancy Black and Anjanette Adams (Business/Industry), Tim Frahm (Agriculture alternate), Gary Pezzi (Recreation alternate), and Steve Clark (Education alternate). The Harbors seat rotated this year to include Brian Foss and Steve Scheiblauer, and Deborah Streeter was elected council chair and Tom Canale as vice chair.
The Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation continued to play an integral role with SIMoN administration and management. In
addition, the foundation expanded its scope of operation to help manage our multicultural education, management plan review,
and agricultural programs. We are truly lucky to have such a
With Superintendent William Douros on detail in Italy for part of the year, we kept in close communication through a new web page logging his travels and activities. Many other new pages, containing a plethora of information on resource protection issues, were added to our very popular web site, also. Check them out at http://montereybay.noaa.gov.