Cause for Celebration: Two California Marine Sanctuaries Double in Size
California has long been a leader in protecting its ocean resources. Starting a decade ago, with strong support from the Aquarium, the state established a comprehensive network of marine protected areas stretching from the Oregon border to Mexico.
The legacy goes back much further. Next door to the Aquarium, the waters at Hopkins Marine Station were designated as a marine reserve in 1931.
The federal government has stepped up to safeguard ecologically rich areas along our coast, too. Since 1980, it has created four national marine sanctuaries in California: Channel Islands (1980), Gulf of the Farallones (1981) Cordell Bank (1989) and - just offshore of the Aquarium - Monterey Bay (1992).
On Thursday, two of those sanctuaries grew significantly larger when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced a doubling in size of Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries.
Strong public demand
With the expansion, national marine sanctuaries now cover a contiguous stretch of 350 miles off California’s coast, from Point Arena to Cambria. NOAA’s action came in response to strong public demand from fishermen, conservationists and public officials.
“With this decision, Californians again have demonstrated their passion for conserving our oceans and coasts, upon which our future depends,” says Margaret Spring, the Aquarium’s vice president of conservation and science, and our chief conservation officer.
The waters of the two sanctuaries are home to breeding colonies for important species, and are the source of the upwelling of nutrients from deep ocean waters that fuels productive food webs along a larger part of the Central Coast.
Nationally, more than 170,000 square miles of ocean are protected in marine sanctuaries. It’s an impressive - and growing - legacy of ocean conservation.
Learn more about the decision
Dive deeper into California’s national marine sanctuaries