The Obama Administration has recently proposed plans to more than double the size of two marine sanctuaries in northern California. The local waters of the Pacific Ocean are nutrient rich and home to humpback whales, great white sharks, and abundant fish stocks, all integral parts of also helping commercial fishing and tourism.
The protected zone covers about 2,800 nautical square miles, ranging from the coast of Point Arena to waters near the Golden Gate Bridge. The oil industry says it has no plans to exploit these specific areas, but several House members are still pushing for protection.
It will take up to two years to expand Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones, the two existing federal marine sanctuaries. They currently cover more than 1,800 nautical square miles. Since so much of California’s offshore oil production comes from 32 platforms along the southern coast, this area is prone to “upswelling,” contaminating the nutrient-rich water that nourishes the local marine life.
This could be a start to the climate change and environment-related activity Obama says are among his top priorities for the next four years. While his administration has opened up a great deal of territory for offshore oil drilling, it is a good sign that he is also taking steps to protect this precious territory.
Image CC licensed by NOAA’s National Ocean Service : Rockfish recruits on the top of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary.