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Action: Sample Comments on Proposed Marine Sanctuary Expansion

Included Below – are CAG Comments on Proposed Marine Sanctuary expansion (form approx. Stinson Beach to Pt. Arena ) – Ocean Protection – no fishing regs.

Supporting this expansion with some concerns voiced is a good thing.  Sanctuary management will and does effect SF Bay waters.

Simple support letters will help.

The President is thinking of approving this under Executive Authority.

Comments must be received – prior to June 30

COAST ACTION GROUP
P.O. BOX 215
POINT ARENA, CA 95468

June 23, 2014

Affiliate of Redwood Coast Watersheds Alliance

Maria Brown
Gulf of the  Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent
991 Marine Drive
The Presidio
San Francisco, CA 91929

Comment; Expansion of Marine Sancturary, Gulf of the Farallones/Cordell Bank DEIS and authorization language.  NOAA – NOS – 2012 – 0228

Dear Superintendent Brown:

We write to you supporting the expansion of the National Marine Sanctuary – to a northern limit of Point Arena. We agree with and support the protection and maintenance of these sensitive marine environments proposed to be include in the expanded Marine Sanctuary area(s).

We support the Marine Sanctuary objectives of:

·       Limiting the introduction of pollution (pollutants) into Sanctuary areas

·       Limitations on oil and gas exploration and development – with language that would clearly limit exploration and sea bed drilling or pipelines.

·       Any projects proposed for sanctuary areas that may pose threat to marine life

·       Maintenance of Sanctuary boundary area to mean high tide line

·       Inclusion of sensitive estuarine environments in the Sanctuary management area (see more on this – below)

We hope the above noted objectives  (consistent with enabling legislation) will continue to be included in the Sanctuary management objectives and included in the language supporting the proposed expansion.

There are areas of concern – that are discussed – below:

New Language regarding Exceptions

Newly proposed language would allow for authorization of authority (by approval process governed by the Superintendent) to approve projects and/or activities that are currently banned in the boundary of the current Sanctuary areas.   This provision would weaken protective provisions in the currently existing and proposed expanded Sanctuary area(s).  It is unclear how this approval process for “certain” projects might work and what criteria might be applied to the approval process. Recognizing that oil and gas exploration projects may not be approved, other projects that threaten the resource may be proposed.   We urge that language regarding this issue  be clarified so as to not weaken protections currently in place.

There is new language that may allow use of Motorized Personal Water Craft  (PMWC) in certain areas of the proposed expansion.  There is evidence noted in the file of potential harmful effects of PMWC activity on wildlife and marine resources.  Use of PMWC should be excluded from current and expanded Sanctuary Zones.   (with – possible exceptions) Note: There are fishing vessels that are classified as PMWC – but are technically no different than any fishing vessel with 4 stroke diesel or gas engines.  There cases where exemptions for such vessels might be possible – if they can be distinguished from normal (potentially harmful) jet ski use. With the noted confusion of what can be defined as a jet-ski or just a sit on fishing boat, it is not clear this issue can be managed.

Exclusion of Estuaries

The originally proposed legislation for expansion included estuaries. For good reason.  Strong argument can be made that estuarine health and pollution management (control, limitation of pollutants introduced upstream) is linked to the coastal marine resource we are trying to protect.

For example, the Russian River (which discharges directly into the newly proposed expansion area) is a Water Quality Limited Segment – listed as impaired for various pollutants, including sediment, nutrients (not beneficial nutrients – including untreated human, pet, and agricultural wastes), pathogens, etc..  The Russian River spews a brown stew into the local marine environment from storm runoff – from November through May – at a rate of many thousands of cubic feet per second down to the hundreds of cubic feet per second.  The effects of this are visually apparent, for months at a time, for miles up and down the coast and out to sea. It cannot be said that this huge discharge is not harmful to the marine environment.  Additionally this discharge is controllable.

It is understood that this process is under a timeline and the estuarine issue is new (this has not be done before).  However, there are options.

Option – Employment of the Coastal Zone Management Act  (Re-authorization).

NOAA , and the EPA, are, both, signatories and responsible agencies for assuring California’s compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) .  In part, the responsibilities and objectives of the Act are to attain compliance with federal Clean Water Act objectives of limiting pollutant introduction into surface waters.  With the re-authorization of CZMA the State of California has agreed to develop programs to control pollutant introduction from sources – Timber Harvest activity, Agricultural Activity, and Stormwater pollutant management controls (via Stormwater NPDES permits).  The date for Califonia’s compliance to attain these targets is near. California has failed, is failing, in taking the proper and timely action, as indicated by their agreement, under CZMA. California can do a better job – and NOAA can, and should, help the State.

Note: Coastal Zone Management Act – Re-authorization clearly outlines the authorities that California has to meet its legal obligations under the Act.

California has developed a Non-Point Source Pollution Program (Policy), which is supposed to be supported by:

Essential Elements (Five Key Elements) of a Non-Point Source Plan(State Water Board Policy – linked to other supporting programs, known as Implementing Programs).  Implementing Programs are Waste Discharge Requirements, Prescriptive Wavier for Waste Discharge Requirements, Stormwater NPDES, individual discharge (including wastewater NPDES), and other authorities including Basin Plan Amendment(s) – with prohibitions.

California has failed (is failing) to require consistency of Implementing Programs with the Key Elements of a Non-Point Source Plan/ Policy.

California has failed (is failing) to implement Waste Discharge Requirements, or Waivers, for Timber Harvest, Agriculture (vineyard, orchard, row crops, dairy) that are consistent with the Key Elements of  NPS Policy and/or the agreed objective to attain pollution control programs by date certain (under the re-authorization).

California (State and Regional Water Boards) have new Stormwater NPDES Standards. These standards are an improvement. However, the State has  not move forward forcefully to assure compliance by County and City management entities.

NOAA (and EPA) can take action (use their authority) to move a process forward consistent with the CZMA agreement and objectives.  This would solve a huge amount of estuarine issues as well help to limit the introduction of pollutants into the marine environmental in all coastal waters.

We are suggesting that NOAA use its expertise and authorities to address issues of estuarine and marine relevance.

The discussion in this letter is consistent with the Marine Sanctuary legislative language and intent to protect and preserve the marine environment (see App. – below)

Sincerely,

Alan Levine for Coast Action Group

Appendix – supporting language from Federal Register:

CBNMS was designated in 1989, and
was established to protect and preserve
the extraordinary ecosystem, including
invertebrates, marine birds, mammals,
and other natural resources, of Cordell
Bank and its surrounding waters.

The National Marine Sanctuaries Act
(NMSA) (16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.) gives
NOAA the authority to expand national
marine sanctuaries to meet the purposes
and policies of the NMSA, including:
• ‘‘ . . to provide authority for
comprehensive and coordinated
conservation and management of these
marine areas [national marine
sanctuaries], and activities affecting
them, in a manner which complements
existing regulatory authorities (16 U.S.C.
1431(b)(2)); [and]
• to maintain the natural biological
communities in the national marine
sanctuaries, and to protect, and, where
appropriate, restore and enhance natural
habitats, populations and ecological
processes . . .’’ (16 U.S.C. 1431(b)(3)).