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Response to Pressures

This section summarizes the collaboration among numerous authorities that contribute to the management of the sanctuary, and also provides a summary of regulations and other management responses to pressures on marine resources of the sanctuary.

Jurisdictional Authorities of the Sanctuary

Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary overlaps and borders the jurisdictions of several other state and federal agencies. Two other national marine sanctuaries share boundaries with the Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary: to the north and west is Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, and to the south and east is Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Figure 46. State and federal marine protected areas (MPA) and management zones within the Gulf of the Farallones region. State designated MPAs on the north-central California coast went into effect on May 1 2010. These new state MPAs will restrict either all or some extraction of fish and other natural resources, and these three areas (not shown on map), which are no-access zones. (Map: T. Reed, GFNMS)
Figure 46. State and federal marine protected areas (MPA) and management zones within the Gulf of the Farallones region. State designated MPAs on the north-central California coast went into effect on May 1 2010. These new state MPAs will restrict either all or some extraction of fish and other natural resources, and these three areas (not shown on map), which are no-access zones. Click here for a larger image. (Map: T. Reed, GFNMS)
The National Park Service is a significant collaborator with the sanctuary. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore work closely with the sanctuary on the protection and management of natural and cultural marine resources (Figure 46). Golden Gate National Recreation Area includes an extensive network of recreational and historic sites. The sanctuary coordinates and cooperates with Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area in the areas of resource protection, enforcement, interpretation, administrative support, wildlife protection, oil spill preparedness and natural resource damage assessment and restoration. Point Reyes National Seashore represents the largest stretch of shoreline adjacent to the sanctuary, with a small portion of the national seashore overlapping the sanctuary boundary within Tomales Bay. It includes certain state tide and submerged lands that have been conveyed to the national seashore. The national seashore's management plan defines "natural zones" that are to remain unaltered by human activity. Portions of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area shoreline, from the mean high tide out to 400 feet offshore, overlap jurisdiction with the sanctuary. These areas are along the Marin Headlands, Stinson Beach, Bolinas Lagoon and Tomales Bay.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge (Figure 46) at the Farallon Islands to protect migratory birds, pinnipeds, an endemic species of amphibian, and cultural resources. Other federal agencies with management responsibility in the sanctuary include the National Marine Fisheries Service (marine fisheries, marine mammals, sea turtles and habitats), the U.S. Coast Guard (marine safety, oil spill response), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (ocean dumping).

NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service,(NOAA Fisheries) the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the California Department of Fish and Game jointly manage fish, fisheries, marine mammals, seabirds and sea turtles. NOAA Fisheries and the Pacific Fisheries Management Council conduct the stock assessments and set fisheries regulations for federally managed fish populations. NOAA Fisheries has established Essential Fish Habitat (see Figure 34, Habitat Question 5 in Coastal/Offshore section) and Rockfish Conservation Areas to protect critical habitat and overfished species. The Department of Fish and Game is responsible for the management of living marine resources in California, including fish populations that are not federally managed, and has the authority to establish ecological reserves, marine reserves, game refuges and marine life refuges in state waters. Within these areas, the agency has the authority to prohibit or restrict activities that may harm the resources, including fishing, collecting, swimming, boating and public entry. The Department of Fish and Game works closely with the sanctuary in oil spill response, damage assessment and restoration through its Office of Spill Prevention and Response.

As part of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative, the California Department of Fish and Game embarked on a process to establish and modify state-designated marine protected areas (MPAs) along California's north-central coast in 2007. On Aug. 5, 2009, the California Fish and Game Commission approved 21 new MPAs, three state marine recreational management areas, and six special closures that cover 153 square miles of ocean from Alder Creek near Point Arena in Mendocino County to Pigeon Point in San Mateo County, including the waters around the Farallon Islands8 (Figure 46). Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and the northern portion of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary encompass well over half of this newly protected area.

Nine MPAs, two state marine recreational management areas, and five special closures are located within Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, resulting in a total of 16 new protections for sanctuary waters. MPAs include areas that are closed to all extraction, which are known as no-take marine reserves; marine conservation areas, which are closed to most types of fishing; and marine parks that are only open to recreational fishing. The state marine recreational management areas prohibit fishing, but allow for waterfowl hunting. Special closure areas restrict all human activities (no-access zones) in order to predominantly protect breeding and resting seabirds and pinnipeds. This new classification of marine protected areas marks the first time breeding and resting seabirds and marine mammals are protected as part of the California MPA process. All new regulations for the new state MPAs went into effect May 1, 2010.

The California State Water Resources Control Board has designated the following locations within the waters of the sanctuary as Areas of Special Biological Significance: Bird Rock at Tomales Point, Point Reyes Headlands, Double Point, Duxbury Reef and the Farallon Islands. These areas are designated to preserve and maintain high water quality in special biological communities by prohibiting discharges of elevated temperature wastes and point-source sewage of industrial wastes.

Other agencies with management responsibility in the sanctuary or in coastal areas adjacent to the sanctuary include the California State Lands Commission, the California Department of Parks and Recreation and the counties of San Francisco, Marin and Sonoma. All of these counties have Local Coastal Plans certified by the California Coastal Commission.

Figure 47. Farallon scientist readies a hoop net to sample for plankton near the South Farallon Islands. (Photo: J. Hall, GFNMS)
Figure 47. Farallon scientist readies a hoop net to sample for plankton near the South Farallon Islands. (Photo: J. Hall, GFNMS)
Also important to the sanctuary is California's Coastal Ocean Current Monitoring Program, a state-supported, interagency collaboration with the goal of integrated monitoring of currents in the coastal ocean. The program has been a highly collaborative partnership of academic and government institutions working with industry and non-governmental organizations to design a real-time monitoring system of ocean currents along California's coastline. This priority rests on the recognition that most management issues are affected by processes in surface waters, that effective technology is available to map and monitor surface currents, and that the program would serve as a focus for integrating existing observation efforts. By understanding environmental variability in ocean currents, resource managers will be better able to predict and determine areas of contamination and pollutant transport in coastal waters, mitigate hazards, and manage California's living marine resources. The sanctuary works with these and other research institutions to better integrate research and monitoring findings, in order to assess effectiveness of sanctuary regulations, zones and protection plans (Figure 47). Sanctuary Ecosystem Assessment Surveys integrates biological and physical monitoring programs. The sanctuary also uses the Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network as a directory of non-sanctuary monitoring programs.

Vessel Traffic

The Oil Pollution Act is a federal act that regulates discharges of oil or oily mixtures from vessels. Under this act, the Office of Spill Prevention and Response was created in 1990 within the California Department of Fish and Game to be the lead agency charged with oil spill prevention and response. Although it is the lead state agency for oil spill prevention and response, this responsibility is shared with 22 agencies represented on the State Interagency Oil Committee. The Office of Spill Prevention and Response is involved in a variety of programs to prevent spills, including the harbor safety committee process established to reduce risk of marine vessel accidents within or on approach to major harbor facilities. In conjunction with navigation safety, the Office of Spill Prevention and Response is also working with the U.S. Coast Guard regarding evaluation of vessel traffic routing and other safety measures to reduce pollution incidents off the coast of California.

Figure 48. An oiled Western Grebe found during a sanctuary Beach Watch survey, conducted for the Cosco Busan oil spill. (Photo: J. Roletto, GFNMS)
Figure 48. An oiled Western Grebe found during a sanctuary Beach Watch survey, conducted for the Cosco Busan oil spill. (Photo: J. Roletto, GFNMS)
The sanctuary has also increased its management and enforcement activities to help reduce the amount of chronic oil pollution from sunken vessels and illegal discharges of oily bilge water. The sanctuary's Beach Watch program continues to track oil pollution and detect illegal discharges of oil and impacts to wildlife (Figure 48). In 2002, state and federal resource trustee agencies began the removal of oil and oil products from the sunken vessel S/S Jacob Luckenbach. Since the removal of over 85,000 gallons of oil, the sanctuary has detected a decrease in the number of oiled wildlife and tarballs along sanctuary outer coast beaches. Through the Long-Term Management Strategy for ports maintenance, barges transporting dredged spoils across sanctuary waters are required to have an on-board, computerized recording system that notes location of accidental spillage or premature dumping of materials (LTMS 1998). The sanctuary has also increased enforcement of its no-discharge regulation and decreased the amount of sediment discharges from barges transporting sediment to an offshore dumpsite west of the sanctuary boundary.

Figure 49. Biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service work to reestablish a colony of Common Murres in a nearshore area of the Monterey Bay sanctuary. This colony of murres was depleted by oil spills and gillnetting in the 1980s, but recovery efforts are showing positive results. (Photo: J. Roletto)
Figure 49. Biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service work to reestablish a colony of Common Murres in a nearshore area of the Monterey Bay sanctuary. This colony of murres was depleted by oil spills and gillnetting in the 1980s, but recovery efforts are showing positive results. (Photo: J. Roletto)
Recognizing the continuing risk of vessel spills that could impact marine mammals, seabirds and other natural resources in and around the sanctuary, plans are being developed by sanctuary staff to enhance prevention and improve response efforts to offset impacts from potential cumulative and catastrophic events, and to improve or expand restoration programs resulting from damage settlements from oil spills (Figure 49). Sanctuary objectives (described in more detail in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Management Plan) that address the risk of vessel spills are:

  • Assess level of risk from vessel traffic and determine whether improvements can be made to reduce risk.
  • Develop long-term monitoring programs within the sanctuary to identify trends and take proactive measures to reduce risk from vessel spills.
  • Review current response programs and identify areas for improvement, focusing on sanctuary resources at risk.
  • Develop an outreach program for maritime industry, fishing and recreational boating communities based on risk assessment and long-term monitoring results.
  • Provide for continuous evaluation and leverage opportunities for improvement in coordination with partners.

The Ports and Waterways Safety Act is designed to promote navigation and vessel safety and the protection of the marine environment. The act authorizes the U.S. Coast Guard to establish vessel traffic services and systems for ports, harbors and other waters subject to congested vessel traffic. The San Francisco Vessel Traffic Separation Schemes consist of two mile-wide inbound and outbound vessel traffic lanes divided by a separation zone. The lanes are designed to prevent vessel collisions by separating vessels going in opposite directions (see Figure 18 in Pressures section).

Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary regulations that address potential hazards of vessel traffic within the sanctuary are:

    "Except to transport persons or supplies to or from islands or mainland areas adjacent to sanctuary waters, within an area extending 2 NM from the Farallon Islands, Bolinas Lagoon, or any Area of Special Biological Significance, operating any vessel engaged in the trade of carrying cargo, including but not limited to tankers and other bulk carriers and barges, or any vessel engaged in the trade of servicing offshore installations is prohibited. (This does not limit access for fishing, recreational, or research vessels.)"

    "Operation of motorized personal watercraft, except for the operation of motorized personal watercraft for emergency search and rescue mission or law enforcement operations (other than routine training activities) carried out by the National Park Service, U.S. Coast Guard, Fire or Police Departments or other Federal, State or local jurisdictions, is prohibited (Office of the Federal Register)."

Figure 50. New sanctuary regulations instituted in 2009 prohibit anchoring or mooring within seven seagrass zones within Tomales Bay. The sanctuary is currently working with local agencies and stakeholders to develop defined areas for long-term vessel moorings, outside of the seagrass protection zones. (Map: T. Reed, GFNMS)
Figure 50. New sanctuary regulations instituted in 2009 prohibit anchoring or mooring within seven seagrass zones within Tomales Bay. The sanctuary is currently working with local agencies and stakeholders to develop defined areas for long-term vessel moorings, outside of the seagrass protection zones. Click here for a larger image. (Map: T. Reed, GFNMS)
New sanctuary regulations instituted in 2009 protect seagrass beds within Tomales Bay by establishing seven zones that prohibit anchoring and mooring. These new seagrass protection areas cover approximately 20 percent of Tomales Bay (Figure 50). The sanctuary is currently working with local agencies and stakeholders to develop defined areas for long-term vessel moorings, outside of the seagrass protection zones. New regulations instituted in 2009 that address potential hazards of vessels and vessel traffic prohibit:

  • Deserting a vessel aground, at anchor, or adrift in the sanctuary.
  • Leaving harmful matter aboard a grounded or deserted vessel in the sanctuary.
  • Mooring or anchoring vessels in seagrass beds.

Marine Debris

Through its coastal management efforts, NOAA's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management addresses marine debris in a number of ways. The office's Coastal Zone Management Program works with state coastal zone management programs on developing marine debris projects at the state and local levels. NOAA's Marine Debris Program is a cross-NOAA collaboration that is undertaking a national and international effort focusing on identifying, removing, reducing and preventing debris in the marine environment. The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management also administers the Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program. This joint program between NOAA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ensures that coastal states have the tools to address polluted runoff. Under the program, states must implement measures to promote recycling and proper waste disposal at marinas and encourage litter control to reduce the amount of trash that enters our coastal waters. NOAA's Clean Marina Initiative is a voluntary, incentive-based program that encourages marina operators and recreational boaters to engage in environmentally sound operating and maintenance procedures, such as recycling and proper waste disposal that will reduce the amount of marine debris.

Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary regulations prohibit the discharge or deposit of any material or other matter within the sanctuary except:

  • Fish or fish parts and chumming materials (bait).
  • Water (including cooling water) and other biodegradable effluents incidental to vessel use of the sanctuary generated by: marine sanitation devices; routine vessel maintenance, e.g., deck wash down; engine exhaust; or meals on board vessels.

The discharge or deposit of any material or other matter from beyond the boundary of the sanctuary that enters and injures a sanctuary resource or quality, with the exceptions similar to the ones listed above.

The Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary has outlined an initiative to develop a water quality working group as part of the sanctuary advisory council. The working group can provide advice on current, new and emerging water quality issues. One objective of the working group can be to develop specific action plans for issues that include marine debris, as well as agriculture, urban areas, boating and marinas, offshore impacts (radioactive materials, shipping, etc.), mining facilities and mariculture. Additionally, the sanctuary's Resource Protection Action Plan details that the sanctuary will work in collaboration with federal, state and local agencies and the local community to restore the natural ecological processes of Bolinas Lagoon (GFNMS 2008b). The Bolinas Lagoon project aims to protect, enhance and restore the lagoon. One of the better examples of restoring eelgrass to impaired estuaries is the model created by NOAA and Merkel and Associates (a San Diego-based biological consulting firm), which predicts that through habitat improvements and restoration, it is possible to increase the population level of eelgrass beds in San Francisco Bay from 3,000 acres to 33,000 acres (Merkel & Associates 2004). A community-based plan has been developed in 2008 and focuses on reducing or slowing the direct and indirect human impacts affecting the lagoon (Bolinas Lagoon Ecosystem Restoration Project website). Overall, the recommendations focus on reestablishing impaired floodplains, reducing the dam-like effects of bordering roadways, and implementing best management practices throughout the Bolinas Lagoon watershed.

The sanctuary is leading a multi-agency effort to identify ways to improve ecosystem protection in Tomales Bay by assessing vessel use, storage, anchoring, mooring, and removal of abandoned vessels. Eleven local, state and federal agencies with jurisdiction over boating, parks, waters, submerged lands, and shore areas of Tomales Bay make up an interagency committee that jointly developed a document for public input, titled Protecting Tomales Bay by Managing Vessel Usage. The document was released for public comment, during which time three public workshops were held. The sanctuary is committed to continuing to engage boaters and the local community in providing input on the development of a draft vessel management plan for Tomales Bay. To that end, in 2008 the sanctuary advisory council initiated a working group for Tomales Bay vessel management. The working group consisted of representatives of boating associations, shellfish growers, commercial fishermen, boat services operations, conservation organizations, shore-side property owners, and state and federal agencies with jurisdiction in Tomales Bay. The plan is expected to be completed in 2010 or 2011.

The sanctuary is seeking funds to remove marine debris in the form of derelict fishing gear. The state has a similar program currently removing derelict fishing gear in Southern California. This future program will address abandoned and derelict crab pots in the sanctuary. Estimates show that approximately 30,000 crab pots are abandoned or lost in the sanctuary each year (Z. Grader, Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman's Associations, pers. comm.). This derelict gear impacts sanctuary resources by altering the seabed and continues to unintentionally ensnare marine life in the trap in perpetuity. The project will consist of two main tasks: 1) identification and removal of crab pots; and 2) location and removal of gear without surface buoys. The identification tasks are two-fold. In phase one of the project, various techniques will be used to identify and map the location of derelict crab pots. Sanctuary Ecosystem Assessment (SEA) Surveys will visually identify the location of crab pot buoys during open season to locate denser concentrations of gear and track movements after the close of the season, and locate gear remaining after the close of crab season. In a second phase of the project, side-scan sonar will be tested as a tool for identifying crab pots on the seafloor that are no longer attached to a buoy marker. Retrieval efforts will then follow.

Dredged Material

In recent years, there has been improved enforcement and vigilance of the transportation of dredge waste materials through sanctuary waters. The Long-Term Management Strategy, a federal-state partnership produced in the early 1990s, outlines the preferred disposal of dredge waste materials from San Francisco Bay, particularly the Port of Oakland (LTMS 1998). Clean waste materials tested by the Environmental Protection Agency, which are not used in upland or restoration activities, are barged to the Long-Term Management Strategy offshore disposal site, outside of the sanctuary, approximately 55 miles offshore (see Figure 23 in Pressures section). The site has been designated as the San Francisco Deep-Ocean Disposal Site, and is five miles outside of the Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary in 8,200 to 9,800 feet of water. All barges transiting the sanctuary must have monitoring equipment placed within the bins containing the dredge waste materials while en route to the offshore disposal site. These have shown that several transport barges were leaking and spilling dredge waste materials into the sanctuary. Sanctuary staff worked with the Environmental Protection Agency and barge companies to improve compliance with sanctuary regulations, resulting in the vast reduction of spill and leaking incidents. (Chin and Ota 2001)

Radioactive Waste

Until 1970, ocean disposal of both radioactive and non-radioactive waste was acceptable under government policy (Karl 2001). That year, the United States terminated all ocean disposal of radioactive waste materials. In 1972, Congress passed the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act prohibiting dumping of wastes into sanctuary waters. In 1988, Congress passed the Ocean Dumping Ban Act, which gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the responsibility of regulating the dumping of wastes into ocean waters.

The San Francisco area public has voiced concern regarding the radioactive wastes dumped in the Gulf of the Farallones between 1946 and 1970, particularly because major commercial fishing, sport fishing and other recreational activities take place in the area in and above the dump site. Although the sanctuary is not a public health agency and lacks the expertise and removal jurisdiction regarding radioactive waste, the Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary has a congressional mandate and public responsibility to address this potentially significant resource threat.

In order to address the impacts of the waste on sanctuary resources, the Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary partnered with the U.S. Geological Survey, the California Department of Fish and Game, NOAA-Hazmat, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the early 1990s to determine locations of the barrels and sample nearby sediments and benthic marine life. Over $2 million was spent on this research, which allowed for approximately 15 percent of the entire disposal area to be evaluated (mapped, viewed by camera or submersible, or sampled).

The sanctuary intends to develop a working group to resume investigation of the site. The group will develop a strategy for completing the characterization and mapping of the site to determine threats, and plan how best to convey information to the public.

Non-Indigenous Species

Various international, federal and state laws are in place aimed at detecting, preventing and eradicating non-indigenous species. Hundreds of federal, state, international and non-profit organizations have established databases, community outreach, monitoring, eradication, research and education programs. Additionally, industry is working on a number of physical, biological and chemical means of treating or controlling organisms in ballast water.

At the federal level, the National Invasive Species Act reauthorizes and amends the Non-indigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990, requiring open-water exchange of ballast water and mandatory ballast management plans and reporting. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforces Title 50, U.S. Code 58976-58981 of 1993, which prohibits importation of specific disease agents of salmonid fish. Under the Federal Noxious Weed Act of 1974 (amended 1990), the Federal Plant Pest Act of 1957 and the Plant Quarantine Act of 1912, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has the authority to regulate the movement of plants, plant products, plant pests and their vectors, and also has the authority to regulate the introduction of genetically engineered organisms.

Administered by the State Lands Commission, California's Marine Invasive Species Act requires mid-ocean ballast water exchange in waters more than 200 nautical miles from land and in water at least 2,000 meters deep, or retention of all ballast water on board the vessel for all U.S. and foreign vessels that enter California waters after operating outside the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. "Good housekeeping" practices must be observed, which include the avoidance of discharge or uptake near marine sanctuaries, reserves, parks, coral reefs and other areas. Sanctuary prohibition of introducing or releasing exotic species provides a greater impetus for vessels to comply with the Marine Invasive Species Act, as the sanctuary may enforce civil penalties up to $130,000 per violation per day. The sanctuary prohibition is applicable to federal as well as state waters.

The potential for introduced species to cause degradation to sanctuary resources has prompted sanctuary staff to develop plans for implementing strategies that address four primary objectives:

  • Understanding of the current extent of introduced species in the sanctuary.
  • Creation of a new program and/or coordination with existing programs to detect and monitor new introductions.
  • Development of management actions to eradicate and/or control existing and new introductions.
  • Identification and control of current and potential pathways to prevent new introductions.

These objectives are meant to work toward a goal of preventing future introductions of introduced species in the sanctuary, and also detecting, managing and, where feasible, eradicating new and established introduced species.

In addition, the sanctuary has a new regulation that prohibits introducing or otherwise releasing from within or into the sanctuary an introduced species, except:

  • Striped bass (Morone saxatilis) released during catch and release fishing activity; and
  • Species cultivated by mariculture activities in Tomales Bay pursuant to a valid lease, permit, license or other authorization issued by the state of California.

Figure 51. Invasive cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora, is currently under control and possibly eradicated in Bolinas Lagoon. (Photo: National Aquarium in Baltimore)
Figure 51. Invasive cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora, is currently under control and possibly eradicated in Bolinas Lagoon. (Photo: National Aquarium in Baltimore)
The sanctuary, in partnership with the Marin County Open Space District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has led a public process to develop a restoration plan that addresses impacts to Bolinas Lagoon's. The plan has outlined over 30 actions to restore the lagoon by addressing the sources of human-caused accumulated sediment, invasive species, and impacts from climate change. Additionally, there are attempts to control the invasive cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) (Figure 51) and its hybrid with the native cordgrass, Spartina foliosa, in the mud flats of Tomales Bay. Control efforts have eradicated it in Bolinas Lagoon. Additionally, the sanctuary has partnered with project leads UC Davis and the Smithsonian to control green crabs in Bodega Harbor and at a manmade lagoon that is part of the residential community Seadrift (adjacent to Bolinas Lagoon).

Fishing

The California Department of Fish and Game and the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service enforce laws and regulations concerning commercial and recreational fisheries. Fisheries management plans may cover both state and federal waters. For state managed species, the California Fish and Game Commission adopts fishing regulations, and the California State Legislature enacts fishing laws. For federally managed species, the Pacific Fishery Management Council recommends regulations to be implemented by the National Marine Fisheries Service. In contrast, the Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary does not manage fisheries, but it does have a mandate to protect the entire sanctuary ecosystem and has authority to manage human uses that may impact sanctuary resources. Since 2005, California has prohibited bottom trawling within three miles from shore, and the National Marine Fisheries Service has designated several areas within the sanctuary as Essential Fish Habitat, where no trawling is allowed (see Figure 34, Habitat Question 5 in Coastal/Offshore section), and Rockfish Conservation Areas that vary between years, locations, depths and gear types. The state has also restricted large-wattage squid attraction light use in the sanctuary because of their potential to cause disturbance to and increased predation of nocturnal seabirds.

Under a licensing system, the California Department of Fish and Game regulates the taking of tidal invertebrates for commercial purposes. The Department of Fish and Game also regulates sport fishing through license and bag limit systems. A sport fishing license is required for the taking and possession of fish for any non-commercial purpose. The California Fish and Game Commission also leases state water bottom lands for the purpose of mariculture.

Although fishing activities may have impacts on living marine resources, habitats and ecosystem dynamics, specific impacts from fishing activities in and around sanctuary waters are not well understood. Goals of sanctuary staff are to better understand the impacts from fishing activities on sanctuary resources, and also to allow for fishing that is compatible with sanctuary goals and ecosystem protection. To meet these goals, plans have been developed for implementing strategies to achieve the following objectives:

  • Based on the best available scientific and socioeconomic information, the sanctuary will facilitate the evaluation of the status and trends of marine populations (and their causes) in sanctuary waters, and identify and evaluate impacts on sanctuary resources from fishing activities.
  • The sanctuary will seek to facilitate the management of fisheries resources within its boundaries in order to protect cultural resources, to protect important natural resources, and to maintain biodiversity and the health and balance of the sanctuary ecosystem.
  • The sanctuary will identify and develop appropriate actions to address any negative impacts from fishing activities on sanctuary resources.
  • The sanctuary will develop a resource and physical processes characterization of the sanctuary to better understand types and distributions of habitats, species and processes, in order to better assess fish and fisheries impacts.

Nonpoint Source Pollution

The coastal waters of the sanctuary, particularly the estuarine habitats of Bolinas Lagoon, Tomales Bay, Estero Americano and Estero de San Antonio, are vulnerable to land-based nonpoint source pollution from outside the sanctuary. Sources of concern include runoff, agriculture, boating, past mining activities, and aging and undersized septic systems.

In 1999, the state adopted the Plan for California's Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program. The plan is focused on implementing management measures by the year 2013. Implementation of the program is carried out by the State Water Resources Control Board, the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards, the California Coastal Commission, and the participating Nonpoint Source Interagency Coordinating Committee. Two primary federal statutes establish a framework for addressing nonpoint source pollution: Section 319 of the 1987 Clean Water Act and Section 6217 of the 1990 Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency oversees the nonpoint source program and provides program funding to the state (SWRCB and California Coastal Commission 2000).

Effects on water quality within the sanctuary from both point and nonpoint source pollution has prompted sanctuary staff to develop plans for implementing strategies that address two primary objectives:

  1. Develop a regionally based, cooperative water quality protection plan to address point and nonpoint source water quality impacts.
  2. Emphasize a watershed and ecosystem approach and address the range of water quality threats, from chronic land-based runoff to catastrophic offshore events.

These objectives work toward a primary goal of engaging in corrective and proactive measures to protect and enhance water quality in the estuarine, nearshore and offshore environments of the sanctuary.

The regulations highlighted in the Marine Debris section described earlier can also be applied to pollution impacts to water quality.

Wildlife Disturbance

There are four federal acts that protect specific species in the sanctuary: the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation Act. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 provides for the conservation of species at risk of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their range, and the conservation of the ecosystems on which they depend. The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 established a moratorium, with certain exceptions, on the taking of marine mammals in U.S. waters and by U.S. citizens on the high seas, and on the importing of marine mammals and marine mammal products into the United States. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 implements various treaties and conventions between the United States and Canada, Japan, Mexico and the former Soviet Union for the protection of migratory birds. The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation Act provides for conservation and management of fishery resources off the coast of the United States; encourages the implementation and enforcement of international fishery agreements; provides for fishery management plans; and establishes regional fishery management councils.

The definitions of endangered and threatened species under the California Endangered Species Act parallel those of the federal Endangered Species Act. Proposed species are candidate species for which the California Department of Fish and Game has sufficient information on biological vulnerability and threats to support proposals to list them as endangered or threatened. The Department of Fish and Game is also responsible for assigning the designation of California Species of Special Concern to plants and animals that are thought to be at a preliminary stage of risking extinction. The goal of designating species as Species of Special Concern is to halt or reverse their decline by calling attention to these threats and addressing the issues of concern early enough to secure the species' long-term viability.

In the 1960s, the Department of Fish and Game was given the authority to classify an animal as a Fully Protected Species to provide additional protection to those animals that are rare or face possible extinction. Today, most fully protected species have also been listed as threatened or endangered species under the more recent endangered species laws and regulations. Fully Protected Species may not be taken or possessed at any time and no licenses or permits may be issued for their take, except for collecting these species for necessary scientific research and management actions.

Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary regulations that address wildlife disturbance within the sanctuary are:

  • Disturbing seabirds or marine mammals by flying motorized aircraft at less than 1,000 feet over the waters within one nautical mile of the Farallon Islands, Bolinas Lagoon or any Area of Special Biological Significance, except to transport persons or supplies to or from the islands or for enforcement purposes, is prohibited.
  • Operation of motorized personal watercraft is prohibited, except for the operation of motorized personal watercraft for emergency search and rescue missions or law enforcement operations (other than routine training activities) carried out by the National Park Service, U.S. Coast Guard, fire or police departments, or other federal, state or local jurisdictions.
  • Taking any marine mammal, sea turtle, or bird within or above the sanctuary, except as permitted by regulations, as amended, promulgated under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, as amended, (MMPA), 16 U.S.C. 1362 et seq., the Endangered Species Act, as amended, (ESA), 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq., and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, as amended, (MBTA), 16 U.S.C. 703 et seq.
  • Possessing within the sanctuary (regardless of where taken, moved or removed from) any marine mammal, sea turtle, or bird taken, except as authorized under the MMPA, ESA or MBTA, under any regulation, as amended, promulgated under these acts, or as necessary for valid law enforcement purposes.
  • Attracting a white shark in the sanctuary; or approaching within 50 meters (164 feet) of any white shark within the line approximating two nautical miles (2.3 miles or 3.7 km) around the Farallon Islands. This regulation increases the protection of the white sharks known to make an annual migration to the Farallon Islands to feed and prevents disturbances and alterations in their natural behaviors, including feeding, breeding, aggregating and migrating. Elsewhere in the sanctuary, outside the two-nautical-mile radius around the Farallon Islands, the prohibition regarding "approaching" does not apply. The regulation to prohibit attracting white sharks and limiting approach distance is expected to have a beneficial impact on this species, since it would curtail existing attraction activities that may interfere with or disrupt natural shark behaviors.
Rocky Shore Partnership

The Rocky Shore Partnership is part of the Duxbury Reef Rocky Intertidal Restoration Project supported by the Cape Mohican Trustee Council with funds recovered from the S/S Cape Mohican oil spill in 1996. Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, the California Academy of Sciences and Tenera Environmental Inc. are working together to reduce trampling, extraction and other disturbances to this rocky reef by increasing public awareness of our intertidal habitat through environmental education, science and stewardship. The California Academy of Sciences' docents and Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary volunteers serve as citizen-scientists and as Rocky Shore Naturalists. These volunteers work at Duxbury Marine Reserve in Bolinas, Calif., as roving, interpretive naturalists. They also contribute toward ongoing intertidal monitoring research (in conjunction with assessments conducted by Tenera Environmental Inc.). An example of such a project includes species and community changes before and after the implementation of a self-guided trail system mapped for protection of higher impacted areas while retaining aesthetics to visitors. While out on the reef, Rocky Shore Naturalists teach visitors tidepool etiquette and natural history of intertidal animals and algae. The naturalists also work in the California Coast exhibit at the Academy of Sciences and help visitors make connections between the Discovery Tidepool in the California Coast Exhibit and our local national marine sanctuaries.

Figure 52. Sanctuary researchers routinely survey rocky intertidal sites on the Farallones to keep track of the health of the sanctuary. (Photo: J. Roletto, GFNMS)
Figure 52. Sanctuary researchers routinely survey rocky intertidal sites on the Farallones to keep track of the health of the sanctuary. (Photo: J. Roletto, GFNMS)
Wildlife disturbances associated with increasing human populations around coastal areas and easier access to nearshore and offshore environments have prompted sanctuary staff to develop plans for implementing strategies that address two primary objectives: 1) continually evaluate levels and sources of impacts on wildlife habitats through monitoring pristine areas such as the Farallon Islands (Figure 52) and impacted areas such as Duxbury Reef (see text box); and 2) address human behavior that is impacting wildlife habitats. These objectives are meant to work toward a primary goal, which is to lessen or eliminate future impacts, and remedy existing impacts on the living marine resources of the sanctuary and their habitats by encouraging responsible human behavior and reducing user conflicts.

Figure 53. Visitors learning about the intertidal communities of the sanctuary. (Photo: GFNMS)
Figure 53. Visitors learning about the intertidal communities of the sanctuary. (Photo: GFNMS)
The sanctuary has identified three main sources of wildlife disturbances: low-flying aircraft, boats, and humans on foot. These types of disturbances have been shown to have an impact on marine mammals and seabirds, although the impacts to seabirds tend to be more severe. To address these disturbances, the sanctuary has created the Seabird Protection Network, an organized education and outreach program coupled with enforcement, management and monitoring that aims to improve the survival and recruitment of seabird colonies. The network has been in effect since November 2005 and is funded for the next 20 years through oil spill restoration funds. Also, in an effort to curtail trampling impacts to the Duxbury Reef, the sanctuary has initiated a reef protection program through the M/V Cape Mohican Oil Spill Restoration Program (Figure 53). More than $430,000 has been allocated to determine the extent of visitor use at the reef, determine the areas most impacted and provide alternative visitor use patterns using a docent-guided trail system.

Maritime Archaeological Resources

A number of established laws govern the protection and management of maritime heritage resources. The Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1987 charges each state with preservation management for "certain abandoned shipwrecks, which have been deserted and to which the owner has relinquished ownership rights with no retention." For NOAA, preservation mandates for maritime heritage resources derive directly from elements of the Federal Archaeology Program, including the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Section 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act states that each federal agency shall establish a preservation program for the protection of historic properties. Other relevant preservation guidelines include the Antiquities Act of 1906, Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, National Environmental Policy Act of 1982, Preserve America Executive Order (EO 13287 2003) and Sunken Military Craft Act of 2004. These laws codify the protection of heritage sites from illegal salvage and looting. NOAA's Maritime Heritage Program is specifically designed to address these preservation mandates and to both inventory and protect these special resources for the benefit of the public.

California state regulations also prohibit the unpermitted disturbance of submerged archaeological and historical resources. Additionally, the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and California State Lands Commission have an archaeological resource recovery permit system in place. Protection and monitoring of these sites will become a more pronounced responsibility in the sanctuaries' heritage resources management program.

Under Office of National Marine Sanctuaries regulations, removing or damaging any historical or cultural resource is prohibited within the Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary. Additionally, the National Marine Sanctuaries Act requires each sanctuary to inventory and document its maritime heritage resources. Given the existence of historically important shipwrecks in the Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary, the likelihood of finding more, and the keen public interest in these resources, it is a priority for the sanctuary to continue its efforts to inventory and document archaeological resources.

Maritime heritage has been identified as a "cross-cutting" issue by Gulf of the Farallones, Cordell Bank and Monterey Bay national marine sanctuaries. These three adjacent Central California sanctuaries are now collaborating to identify historic and non-historic shipwrecks, and to monitor those that may pose environmental threats to sanctuary resources. Deep on the ocean floor are hazardous cargos, abandoned fuel, and unexploded ordnance inside sunken vessels that are slowly deteriorating in the corrosive saltwater environment.

The following strategies have been recommended by the three sanctuaries to address the inventory process and further protect Central California's maritime heritage resources:

  • Establishment of a maritime heritage resources program.
  • Inventory and assessment of submerged sites.
  • Assessment of shipwrecks and submerged structures for hazards.
  • Protection and management of submerged archaeological resources.
  • Development of public outreach activities with traditional user and ocean-dependent groups and communities.
  • Establishment of maritime heritage focused educational and outreach programs.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
8 In order to address the set of 17 questions related to the status and trends of sanctuary resources in this condition report, a workshop with local subject matter experts was convened in August 2007. The comments and recommendations of the workshop participants were reviewed by sanctuary staff and incorporated, as appropriate, into a draft document. Because input from subject matter experts was received before the MPAs were designated, this condition report does not include a consideration of this recent protection. However, future iterations of the condition report will take these regulations into consideration.

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