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Marine Conservation Institute Applauds NOAA Announcement to More Than Double the Size of the Northern California Marine Sanctuaries

Marine Conservation Institute, a leader in protecting marine biodiversity and important ocean places, applauds the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for expanding the Gulf of Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries.  As announced in the Federal Register today, this action will more than double the combined size of the existing sanctuaries from approximately 1,800 to 4,500 square miles, a new area larger than the state of Delaware. The Sanctuaries will now protect over 100 miles of spectacular California coast from offshore oil drilling and other destructive activities, reaching from near the mouth of San Francisco Bay to Point Arena.california-expansion-map

“This wonderful news culminates over a decade of work by members of the Sanctuary Advisory Councils, marine researchers, ocean lovers, NOAA staff and the California congressional delegation, especially retired Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey,” said Dr. Lance Morgan, president of Marine Conservation Institute and for many years a member of the Cordell Bank Sanctuary Advisory Council. “It means we have finally protected these very special waters – home to abundant sea life, including blue, gray and humpback whales and hundreds of thousands of breeding seabirds – from damaging extractive activities like oil and gas drilling.”

This action is the first major expansion of a marine sanctuary in US continental ocean waters in years. The Thunder Bay sanctuary, in fresh water, was expanded in 2014 and the sanctuary in American Samoa was expanded in 2012. In addition to vulnerable species, the newly protected area hosts a very important upwelling of nutrient rich, cold water that creates an extremely productive food chain that nourishes much of the sea life in marine sanctuaries down the coast and as far away as Monterey Bay. Protecting this area is similar to protecting the headwaters of an entire city’s water supply in the far away mountains. Without clean feeder streams, the city’s water supply is threatened; without protected upwelling zones, marine species risk limited or polluted food supplies

Mike Gravitz, director of policy and legislation for Marine Conservation Institute added, “We’ve been advocating for this significant expansion for years. Over two years ago we filed 2,700 public comments with NOAA supporting the expansion and submitted testimony based on extensive research findings to create a scientific case for action. And having advocated for this in Congress for years, we couldn’t be more pleased with today’s expansion, for us and future generations of Californians.”

About Marine Conservation Institute 

Marine Conservation Institute is a team of highly-experienced marine scientists and environmental-policy advocates dedicated to saving ocean life for us and future generations. The organization’s overarching goal is to help the world create an urgently-needed worldwide system of strongly protected areas—the Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES)—a strategic, cost-effective way to ensure future diversity and abundance of marine life. Founded in 1996, Marine Conservation Institute is a US-based nonprofit organization with offices in Seattle, near San Francisco and in Washington DC. For more information, please go to:

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For more information, media and bloggers only, please contact:

Michael Gravitz, Director of Policy and Legislation, Marine Conservation Institute


office: 202-546-5346

mobile: 301-351-5052

Gaby Adam, By the Sea Communications


mobile: 206-931-5942

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