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Human Influences: Socioeconomic Uses

Socioeconomic Uses
IX. Other Activities Potentially Impacting MBNMS

A. Military bases

The Fort Ord military installation, encompassing upland, dune, and beach habitat was recently closed under the federal Base Realignment and Closure program and has been transferred to other state, federal, and regional agencies. Congress designated Fort Ord a "Superfund" site in 1990 to assist in the cleanup of toxic wastes and unexploded ordnance on the base and in the intertidal and marine environment. Forty million dollars have been budgeted to assess and remediate contamination on Ft. Ord, with $500,000 dedicated to clean the marine environment should the assessment indicate this need (NOAA 1995b).

NOAA has expressed concern that the studies performed by the Army's primary contractor, Harding Lawson and Associates, to date do not adequately assess the threats posed by unexploded ordnance on dunes and in the Bay, storm drain leaks, and old holding pond sites on the dunes. NOAA and the Army are working to resolve these issues (NOAA 1995b).

B. Treatment plants and nonpoint-source pollution

Municipal wastewater treatment plants, industrial facilities and coastal power plants are the major sources of point-source discharge into the marine environment. Significant discharges are regulated by National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits and must meet effluent standards set by the California Regional Water Quality Control Boards. Effluents may contain household cleaners, oils, greases, and chemical wastes. NOAA has expressed concern that permits may be reissued without adequate monitoring programs or review of monitoring data (P. Cotter pers. comm.). However, NPDES-regulated discharge is thought to be a far greater problem north and south of the MBNMS in large urban centers. There are eleven NPDES-permitted discharge points in the MBNMS, concentrated around San Francisco Bay and Monterey Bay (NOAA 1992).

Nonpoint source pollutants originating from storm drains, streets, agricultural areas, construction sites, marinas, and accidental sewer overflows are a major source of oils, agricultural chemicals, and other pollutants. These discharges are usually of small volume but are numerous, so are extremely difficult to combat. These discharges, in combination with point source discharges, can lead to public health threats resulting in beach closures and other actions. In MBNMS counties, there were more than 120 beach closure-days in 1993, and more than 180 in 1994 (State Water Resources Control Board 1994).

Nonpoint source pollution from coastal areas has recently been recognized as the largest source of pollution to the marine environment and precipitated legislation in the federal Coastal Zone Management Act mandating coastal states to assess and reduce coastal pollution. California's assessment and plan has been drafted and is now under EPA review. NOAA's Water Quality Protection Program addresses nonpoint source pollution (NOAA 1994), and a full-time staff person is under contract to direct this program at the MBNMS office (H. Price pers. comm.; see Water Quality section). Other regional agencies such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG), and California State University at Monterey Bay are working directly with landowners and businesses to reduce these inputs. Funding has been curtailed or eliminated for many of these federal and state programs (H. Price pers. comm.).

C. Marine harvest refuges

Resource experts and managers have supported harvest reserves as an alternative or a complement to single species management in California, especially for nearshore fishes including rockfishes, lingcod, and surfperches (Karpov et al. 1995, Lea et al. 1993, Davis 1991, Leet et al. 1992).

Marine harvest refuges have been established around the world as a means of protecting target species and their associated natural communities from overexploitation. Reserves protect spawning stocks, replenish reserves and surrounding areas, buffer populations against overfishing, conserve ecosystem integrity by maintaining natural communities, protect habitat from fishery-associated damage, and conserve undisturbed sites that can serve as control areas for research (Bohnsack 1993, Davis 1991, Dugan 1991, Norse 1993). Empirical evidence confirming some of these benefits is scarce but growing (Dugan et al. 1993).

Small reserves exist within MBNMS at Big Creek Ecological Reserve, Carmel Bay Biological Reserve, Fitzgerald Marine Life Reserve, Hopkins Marine Life Reserve, and Point Lobos Ecological Reserve, established through legislation and park designation between 1970 and 1991. Research on the abundance, diversity, and population structure of fish within some of these reserves is planned or has been initiated (Cailliet 1994, VenTresca 1995, Crane 1995). Preliminary monitoring data from Big Creek Reserve suggest an increase in abundance and size of rockfishes (VenTresca 1995). "Natural" harvest refuges within MBNMS formed by areas physically inaccessible to fishing suggest that some rockfish populations benefit from reduced harvest pressure (Yoklavich 1993). Former California Department of Fish and Game biologist and longtime diver Dan Gotshall commented that rockfish abundance and diversity is "comparable to 1960's levels" in Pt. Lobos reserve (Gotshall 1995). Intertidal reserves have been recommended to protect resident invertebrate populations (Leet et al. 1992) and research has been proposed to assess the effectiveness and feasibility of such reserves in Elkhorn Slough (R. Kvitek pers. comm.).

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Section VIII. Research and Education Facilities
Reviewed: September 08, 2023
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