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Congressional Subcommittee Comes to UCSB - Witnesses Plead for Reinvigorated Marine Sanctuaries

Publication Date: 
November 03, 2007
Source: 
Santa Barbara Independent
Author: 
Martha Sadler

Meg Caldwell, director of the Stanford Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Program, testified before the congressional Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Oceans advocating for marine sanctuaries. Martha Sadler reported "the field hearing was the first of several that the subcommittee expects to hold in various parts of the nation before introducing a bill to re-authorize the National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP)."

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Caldwell's testimony included these statements:

"I believe that in the next thirty years our oceans will face even greater threats than those that spurred the original legislation. For this reason I am grateful for the opportunity to respond to your request for recommendations to strengthen and clarify the mission of the National Marine Sanctuaries system so that it can serve as an important line of defense against the dangers confronting our marine environment."

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"In my testimony I would like to address one of the aspects of the NMSA that I am most familiar with: the freedom the NMSA gives federal and state governments to collaborate on co-managing marine ecosystems that span both state and federal waters. Specifically, I will discuss the contributions that the sanctuaries system has made in the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Santa Barbara."

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"...it is unfortunately the case that the marine ecosystem management system in place at the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary provides a rare success story for mainland U.S. waters. Many sanctuaries provide minimal protection to the important ecosystems they cover, many of our most valuable marine environments are left unprotected, and several of our coastal states have sanctuaries barely big enough to encompass a shipwreck. Congress now has the opportunity to fulfill the original vision of the NMSA by aligning the actual authority of the National Marine Sanctuaries system with its broad mandate to protect our most valuable ocean ecosystems. With a few targeted changes, the NMSA could make the success embodied in the Channel Islands Sanctuary network of marine protected areas the norm rather than the exception."