Carbajal, Feinstein, Padilla, Panetta Applaud Release of Proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary

Biden-Harris Administration heeds California lawmaker’s call to move forward on designation of proposed 5,600-square mile marine sanctuary to span area between existing Monterey and Channel Islands sanctuaries

Today, California lawmakers Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Sen. Alex Padilla, and Rep. Jimmy Panetta (CA-19) applauded the release by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the draft designation for the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary off the central coast of California.

“The Central Coast has pursued this sanctuary designation for decades, and as our oceans and our communities are facing unprecedented challenges from a changing marine environment, this draft comes at a critical time for our region. I am glad that we finally have a draft that puts this sanctuary’s final approval within reach,” said Rep. Carbajal. “I look forward to reviewing the draft designation and working with NOAA, the Commerce Department, and all local stakeholders to bridge any remaining challenges to making the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary official by the end of this Congress.”

“The Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary would protect one of the largest remaining kelp forests, helping to combat climate change while preserving sacred Chumash cultural sites.  It’s wonderful news that NOAA is moving forward on this designation,” Senator Feinstein said.

“The waters off the Central Coast hold sacred Chumash history and play host to a vibrant ecosystem of endangered species and diverse habitats,” said Senator Padilla. “Designating the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary would strengthen marine research, education, and conservation along the coast while incorporating the values and traditions of surrounding Indigenous communities through collaborative management practices. I am committed to working with NOAA officials, Senator Feinstein, Representative Carbajal, Representative Panetta, Tribal leaders, and local stakeholders to secure crucial protections for this vital marine ecosystem.”

“Preserving the beauty of the central coast of California means that we have a shared responsibility to create certain safeguards for our oceans,” said Rep. Panetta.  “The draft designation of the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary brings us one step closer to securing more than 5,600 square miles of this biologically diverse marine ecosystem.  By partnering with our local tribal, fishing, hospitality, and environmental leaders in the establishment of this federal marine sanctuary, we can ensure our coastal resources are protected and continue to propel our economy and environment, while fulfilling our obligation to our heritage and home for future generations.”

In May, these and other California lawmakers urged the Biden-Harris Administration to prioritize completing the designation phase.

In their letter, the California lawmakers emphasized the potential benefits of the proposed sanctuary, including ecological and biological protections for California marine life, the values of recognizing the Native American stewardship of the coastal waters, and the $1.7 trillion coastal economy that supports a wide range of industries in California.

The draft designation is available here.

Public comment will be open on the draft designation through October 25.

The Commerce Department moved the proposed sanctuary into the designation phase in November 2021. The public scoping process was completed more than a year ago.

In 2020, Carbajal, Feinstein, and then-Senator Kamala Harris successfully secured an extension of the proposed sanctuary from the Trump Administration, keeping the process alive for enough time for the Biden-Harris Administration to move forward with the designation process in 2021 without needing to review a new proposal.

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