NOAA 2000-150
Contact: Stephanie Dorezas

New National Science Center for Marine Protected Areas Also Included

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – U.S. Secretary of Commerce Norman Y. Mineta today demonstrated the administration's continued commitment to restoration and preservation of the nation's irreplaceable ocean resources by unveiling a state-of-the art scientific research facility in central California.

"Our oceans are indispensable lifelines from both environmental and economic perspectives and require first-class research to ensure their health," Secretary Mineta said of the new marine fisheries research laboratory in Santa Cruz. "This laboratory will provide researchers with the critical tools they need to help shape the future of our oceans."

"One of my top priorities is protecting the oceans and learning all that we can about them. With this stewardship comes important collaborations such as this one that will open doors to new partnerships to help us protect and restore our oceans for generations to come," added Secretary Mineta, the nation's chief advocate for the oceans.

The new facility, located next to UCSC's Long Marine Laboratory, joins a growing research and academic community at this site and in the Monterey Bay region. The location is ideal for developing cooperative, collaborative relationships in education and research. There are now 21 marine science institutions or agency programs based in the Monterey Bay region, employing nearly 1,850 scientists and support staff and with a collective annual budget of nearly $150 million. The $19.4 million laboratory replaces NOAA's obsolete Tiburon lab facilities in the San Francisco Bay area. Other facilities on the site, in addition to Long Marine Lab, include a Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center (California Department of Fish and Game) and the Seymour Marine Discovery Center, a public education center and university teaching laboratory. UCSC's Center for Ocean Health and a Seabird/Raptor Facility are currently under construction.

"I am delighted to welcome our new neighbor and our newest partner in marine reseach," said Dr. M.R.C. Greenwood, UCSC chancellor. "The new NOAA Fisheries facility, with its distinguished scientists, is a major addition to the unique consortium of leading ocean sciences organizations in the Monterey Bay area."

The mission of the laboratory is to conduct research and produce scientific information and data to support conservation and management of marine fisheries and essential fish habitat. Laboratory scientists focus on a wide variety of field and laboratory studies in the Pacific Ocean off central and northern California and in coastal salmon streams. The environmental research will focus on the near shore waters along the central California coast and San Francisco Bay. It will support the management of these new stocks by providing the scientific basis for future management decisions. The new laboratory, which overlooks the nation's largest National Marine Sanctuary, includes the latest in modern technology including a seawater system that will be used to better study these critical species.

Today, the secretary announced an additional role for the laboratory with nation-wide responsibilities.

"In addition to state-of-the-art fisheries research, the lab will be home to the new National Science Center for Marine Protected Areas. Born out of President Clinton's executive order earlier this spring to enhance existing and newly established MPA's for protection and conservation for our coastal and marine resources, this center will be the focal point of our efforts," Secretary Mineta said.

This national MPA initiative calls for the creation of a comprehensive system of marine protected areas designed to conserve and study representative habitats of all our nation's marine ecosystems.

"There isn't a better place to locate the MPA Science Center than Santa Cruz. We have the best scientists; we have the most up-to-date equipment and a brand new laboratory; we have the grandest doorway to the oceans of anywhere on the planet. This is where it all happens," added Congressman Sam Farr, who has helped make this new a lab reality.