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Marine sanctuary vote is good news for SLO County

By Greg McMillan, Lindi Doud, Pat Veesart, Jono Kincade, Patrick McGibney and Linda Seeley

Published on SanLuisObispo.com, Friday, May 04, 2012

There may soon be a new way for our community to directly manage our coastal and ocean treasures.

On April 19, the Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC) of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary voted to urge the federal government to allow local communities to have the opportunity to pursue the establishment of a marine sanctuary.

The SAC is comprised of local stakeholders within the boundaries of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary who make recommendations on how resources should be managed off their portion of California's coast. The council is made up of representatives from the fishing and tourism industries, local government, research institutions and the public, who all bring their concerns and perspectives to the council.

Through the National Marine Sanctuary program, the Monterey Bay sanctuary has created one of the most robust ocean-based economies in the country. Tourism, sport fishing, recreation and research are all elevated by the existence of the National Marine Sanctuary and the opportunity for each sector to have its voice heard at the SAC.

The overwhelming 13-2 vote of the council to support reactivation of the national marine sanctuary Site Evaluation List (SEL) underscores the widely recognized benefits of having local communities engage in the marine sanctuary process.

Many in our own community believe that San Luis Obispo would benefit from the same ability to influence the management of our coast. The council's vote could open the door and provide the space for San Luis Obispo County to formally start the conversation about a national marine sanctuary off our coast.

As the Sanctuary Advisory Council's letter to the secretary of commerce states, "The SEL will open up a process for communities across the country, not just those near the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, to engage in this process and make their voices known."

The Sanctuary Advisory Council's April 19 vote was a great step toward better management of our coastal resources, but it was just the beginning.

For more information about the benefits of National Marine Sanctuary designation and the work being done in our community, visit http://www.santalucia.sierraclub.org and click on "SLO Coast National Marine Sanctuary Panel."

The authors serve on the Executive Committee of the Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club.

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Bill Deneen Awards Explore, Enjoy and Protect - Santa Lucia Chapter hike in Machesna Wilderness

Machesna Wilderness hike
April 2002
Photo by Gary Felsman

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