SHIPPING LANES CHANGED IN BAY AREA SANCTUARIES
To prevent whale deaths from accidental ship strikes, Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries, NOAA Fisheries, and Point Blue Conservation Science provided the U.S. Coast Guard with whale-related information, as well as recommendations for a local area Port Access Route Study and an International Maritime Organization recommended lane change. The Coast Guard used the information in a rulemaking that was finalized in June 2013. The changes created traffic lanes that would shift vessel traffic away from areas where feeding whales frequent. Special notices also alerted ships to avoid known areas of seasonal whale density.
EXPANDING TWO CALIFORNIA SANCTUARIES
NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries initiated a public process to expand the boundaries north and west of Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries. Following a public scoping period, a draft environmental impact statement and revised management plan were prepared and are expected to be released in the spring of 2014. This proposed expansion will protect nationally significant seascapes and biologically productive source waters.
SANCTUARY ECOLOGICALLY SIGNIFICANT AREAS
Through a collaborative stakeholder process, 15 areas in offshore federal waters were identified as Sanctuary Ecologically Significant Areas (SESAs) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. SESAs served as the basis for a proposal submitted to the Pacific Fishery Management Council to modify bottom trawling fishing boundaries off the Central Coast. The proposal, a result of a year-long effort involving commercial fisherman and environmental groups, closes new areas to protect sensitive coral and sponge habitats, designates "Habitat Areas of Particular Concern," re-opens some closed areas, and includes "Voluntary Management Areas," adopted by fishermen as no bottom trawl zones.