West Coast News: To learn what's happening with all five sanctuary advisory councils on the west coast, quarterly highlights are available here.
New Members Welcomed to Sanctuary Advisory Council
In May of 2013 the advisory council welcomed several new public and government seat representatives:
- Michael Cohen, Business seat member; Owner/Director, Santa Barbara Adventure Company
- Captain Kip Louttit, Business seat alternate; Executive Director, Marine Exchange of Southern California
- Stuart Wilson, Non-consumptive Recreation seat alternate; Professional wildlife and nature photographer
- Shelby Mendez, NOAA Fisheries seat alternate; Environmental Policy Act Coordinator, Office of Protected Resources, Southwest Regional Office
- LT Cody Dunagan, U.S. Coast Guard seat alternate; Living Marine Resources Officer, 11th District (California)
Family of Fallen U.S. Coast Guard Officer to receive Condolences and Support from Channel Islands Sanctuary Advisory Council
In December of 2012 U.S. Coast Guard officer Terrell Horne III was tragically killed in the line of duty while interdicting a suspicious vessel within the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. On May 17, 2013 the sanctuary advisory council voted unanimously to send a letter of condolence to Officer Horne's surviving wife and two children, expressing sympathy and noting that: "We are grateful for his service. The courage and dedication that he, and the rest of your family, has exhibited allowed him to selflessly serve our community. This is highly commendable and our community is indebted to your family for your sacrifice." In addition to the letter, council members signed a card and pooled together donations of money and family-friendly passes to local attractions. If you wish to donate to the Horne family, you can do so through the U.S. Coast Guard Foundation.
Support Letter for Reactivation of ONMS Site Evaluation List Approved by Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council
On March 15, 2013 the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council approved a letter expressing support for reactivation of the Site Evaluation List (SEL) process for national marine sanctuaries. The letter will be addressed to the Acting Secretary of Commerce, the Acting NOAA Administrator, and the Director of NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. A motion to approve the letter passed by a vote of 13-0, with four agency seat abstentions. The council's deliberations on this topic were thoughtful and at times robust. The council had learned about the SEL at their January 2013 meeting, receiving an informational presentation by William Douros, ONMS West Coast Regional Director. Several members worked hard to find a compromise on language in the letter that all could agree to, ultimately prevailing through a consensus-based approach. In the approved letter, the council states "The SEL is a starting point that allows a future public process to fully consider all factors including, but not limited to: environmental impacts; existing uses; cultural resources; opportunities for scientific research; greenhouse gas emissions, climate change and ocean acidification; and the interests of Federal and State agencies, including national defense and resource protection." Their letter goes on to say that: "The SEL also allows for stakeholders (both consumptive and non-consumptive) to participate in a transparent process to consider all views and opinions. For example, the Recreational Fishing seat of the Channel Islands SAC has expressed concerns about possible restrictions on recreational fishing within Sanctuaries." Council members agreed that regardless of support for or concerns about additional national marine sanctuaries being proposed for designation, the SEL process appears to represent a fair approach to considering community and agency interests. Click here for a copy of the letter.
Sanctuary Advisory Council Acknowledged for 2012 Accomplishments
At the Sanctuary Advisory Council's last meeting of 2012, sanctuary staff acknowledged the council's accomplishments throughout the year and thanked them for all that they do. Notable actions that the advisory council was recognized for include:
- Continuing to be a leading voice on and source of deep understanding about the importance of ocean acidification, helping to spur many spin-off accomplishments such as new public service announcements and communication workshops;
- Staying focused on and committed to finding ways to reduce the risk of whale ship strikes, including serving as a leading voice and source of knowledge that is now leading to the adjustment of shipping lanes within the Santa Barbara Channel;
- Expressly supporting sanctuary research, including backing the sanctuary research department and the Research Activity Panel's assessment of science needs and priorities, as well as a UC Santa Barbara Bren School socioeconomic research project;
- Launching a new MPA Science Speaker Series, which engaged everyone in learning about important new marine science happening in and around the sanctuary;
- Embracing high school youth involvement with the council by piloting a Youth Ocean Stewards program;
- Telling NOAA leadership how important the agency's Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program is, emphasizing the value of funding education and meaningful experiences for young students;
- As part of an ongoing commitment to help protect whales from ship strikes, writing a letter of support for the concept of an innovative incentive-based approach to reducing ship speeds by tapping into state greenhouse gas cap-and-trade auction funds;
- Establishing a new Marketing Subcommittee that is off to a great start, bringing in fresh and creative entrepreneurial ideas to expand support for the sanctuary and help sustain valuable programming; and
- Taking a broader and leading role in education and outreach when additional MPAs were established along the coast, specifically through the coordinating efforts of the Sanctuary Education Team as they brought together agencies, NGOs and other stakeholders to refine and align messaging.
Staff also acknowledged that the advisory council is a highly functioning group and enjoyable to work with, attributing their success to such factors as having:
- Creative and productive working groups;
- High participation by council members;
- A wealth of knowledge and experience;
- Dedicated leadership and close communications by the council's Executive Committee;
- Consistently strong public interest in joining the council when seats become open; and
- A willingness and ability to address difficult issues, reaching or trying to reach consensus in a manner that is respectful, civil, and a model of how advisory groups should work.