Limón Issues Letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce on Marine Sanctuaries of California
Assemblymember Monique Limón issued the following letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross, Jr. in response to Presidential Executive Order 13795. Letters can be submitted here.
The Honorable Wilbur L. Ross, Jr.
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20230
August 14, 2017
Subject: President’s Executive Order 13795
Dear Secretary Ross:
I write to urge you to maintain the designation and current boundaries of California’s marine sanctuaries.
The Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, Cordell Bank, and the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries are areas with special national significance due to their conservation, recreational, ecological, historical, scientific, cultural, archeological, educational and esthetic qualities. Altering or removing any marine sanctuary designations to allow for offshore drilling would be detrimental to California’s economy, ecosystem, and commitment to sustainability.
California’s marine sanctuaries provide for a variety of recreational and commercial activities, including fishing, boating, wildlife viewing, and shipping. Every year hundreds of millions of California residents and visitors enjoy the state’s ocean and coast, resulting in a $1.9 trillion coastal economy. Between 2010 and 2012, harvest from commercial fishing in these four California national marine sanctuaries produced about $69.2 million. This had a multiplier effect, which generated $70 million in income that supported 1,840 coastal jobs. These sanctuaries are living proof that protecting our nation’s most treasured natural resources go hand in hand with a robust economy.
The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, which is located in my district, off the coast of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, contains remarkable biodiversity. The area protects the red sea urchin, which accounts for a multi-million-dollar fishery that is critical to the fish and sushi industry. Positioned at the confluence of two major ocean currents, it hosts many species close to extinction and contains one third of Southern California’s kelp forests. The area also supports valuable commercial and recreational activities, contributing to 1 out of 8 jobs in the Central Coast in the travel and tourism industry.
Removing the marine sanctuary designations, or taking steps to allow for further offshore oil drilling, would not just undermine the efforts of the local community to preserve and protect our coastline, marine life and the ocean, but threatens our economic livelihood as well. In 1969, the Santa Barbara Channel faced the largest oil spill in California’s history, spewing 100,000 barrels of crude oil along our coast. That incident, coupled with the 2015 Refugio oil spill, also in Santa Barbara County, cost $92 million to clean up and caused generations worth of damage to our unique marine ecosystem and wildlife. Our coastal communities, California’s economy, and our environment cannot afford another devastating oil spill.
California’s marine sanctuaries were created in a bipartisan fashion after years of community and scientific input. Protecting these four sanctuaries is a high priority for the millions of Californians who value and rely on our coast both financially and recreationally. Therefore, I implore you to recognize the significance of these sanctuaries and take appropriate action to protect these critical resources.
California State Assembly, District 37