NOAA 2006-R466
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ben Sherman
6/22/06
NOAA News Releases 2006
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CHANNEL ISLANDS NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY HOLDS PUBLIC HEARINGS
ON DRAFT MANAGEMENT PLAN

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Sanctuary Program is holding two public hearings on the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary draft management plan and draft environmental impact statement. The hearings will provide the public with an opportunity to learn about and comment on the sanctuary draft plan, which was released for public comment on May 15, 2006. The plan is the result of several years of study, planning and extensive public input.

Public hearings will be held at the following dates and times:

Tuesday, June 27, 2006, 6:15–9:00 pm
Sheraton Four Points Hotel
San Buenaventura Ballroom
1050 Schooner Drive
Ventura, California

Thursday, June 29, 2006, 6:15–9:00 pm
Earl Warren Showgrounds
Warren Hall
3400 Calle Real
Santa Barbara, California

“We encourage the public to help shape the sanctuary’s future by commenting on our draft management plan,” said Chris Mobley, sanctuary superintendent. “The National Marine Sanctuary Program places a high value on public input, and the sanctuary’s final management plan, which we anticipate releasing this winter, will address comments we receive during the public comment period.”

The public hearings will begin with a brief staff overview of the draft management plan, followed by a public comment session during which one speaker at a time will be allocated several minutes to comment. Members of the public may also submit written comments at the hearings.

All written comments must be received (post-marked) by July 21, 2006, at the sanctuary office at 113 Harbor Way, Suite 150, Santa Barbara, Calif. 93109, by email at: cinms.mgtplan@noaa.gov, or by
fax at (805) 568-1582.

The draft management plan will be available in hard copy and CD-ROM format at both public hearings. Copies are also available now at www.channelislands.noaa.gov; by request via e-mail to: mp.request@noaa.gov; at the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary office, or by request via phone at (805) 884-1464.

The draft plan, a major revision of the sanctuary’s original 1983 management plan, focuses on public awareness and understanding, conservation science, water quality, emergency response and enforcement, maritime heritage, sanctuary operations and performance evaluation. The draft environmental impact statement analyzes a range of alternatives for modified and new regulations. Proposed changes to regulations are intended to clarify and strengthen protections for marine habitats, sensitive species, water quality, and submerged cultural and historic resources.

The draft management plan does not propose the establishment of marine reserves (no-take areas) or marine conservation areas (limited-take areas) within the sanctuary, which will be considered later this year as part of a separate NOAA environmental review and public process. Also, the draft management plan does not propose a sanctuary boundary expansion, but rather calls for the continuation of a comprehensive, scientifically based public process that will lead to a sound decision.

Periodic management plan reviews are required by Congress for each of the 13 national marine sanctuaries to ensure that they continue to conserve, protect, and enhance their nationally significant living and cultural resources while allowing compatible commercial and recreational activities.

The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary encompasses the four northern Channel Islands (San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, and Anacapa) and Santa Barbara Island off the coast of southern California. With marine boundaries extending from the mean high tide of the islands’ shores to six nautical miles offshore, the sanctuary spans approximately 1,243 square nautical miles. The sanctuary supports a rich and diverse range of marine life and habitats, unique and productive oceanographic processes and ecosystems, and culturally significant resources such as hundreds of shipwrecks and submerged Chumash cultural artifacts. This diversity, along with the busy Santa Barbara Channel, also brings significant human use and value to sanctuary waters, including commercial fisheries, recreational fishing opportunities, marine wildlife viewing, boating and other recreational activities, maritime shipping, research and monitoring activities, and numerous educational activities. Designated in 1980, the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is the nation's fourth largest national marine sanctuary.

NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program seeks to increase the public awareness of America’s maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, the sanctuary program manages 13 national marine sanctuaries and one coral reef ecosystem reserve that encompass more than 150,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

On the Web:

NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov

National Marine Sanctuary Program: http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary: http://channelislands.noaa.gov