The Baby and the Bathwater

We’ve all heard that expression, “Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.” There is nowhere this might better be applied than to the issue of the designation of a marine sanctuary off our Central California Coast. Many support the designation as is, all well and good. These folks are just pleased as punch with the bathwater — perfect in every way and nary a question or concern in their minds (and quite happy with the political and pro-wind farm direction the nominators are taking it in). Then there are those of us that just ain’t too happy with the murky appearance and questionable contents of the “bathwater”—really concerning issues to be seriously taken into consideration for the health of the “baby.” 

As spokesperson for the COAST Alliance, I announce that we have recently disassociated ourselves from the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, Violet Sage Walker and the sanctuary group of which COAST was a founding member, because of significant issues with the recent direction the decision makers are taking the project. Our priority is, and always will be, the health of the oceans. We still support a marine sanctuary on the Central Coast with the same size and basic protections it would provide; sanctions from industrial damage in its various forms such as seismic testing, oil and natural gas exploration and production, mineral exploration and the potential to oppose an offshore windfarm if not presented in an environmentally non-damaging form. A marine sanctuary could benefit us all from a scientific research and economic standpoint as well. 

So, we as an alliance, are prepared to support the sanctuary with the request of some changes to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), and YOU as an individual or an organization can do the same. NOAA will be opening the last public comment period probably within the next 60 days. Now is your opportunity to voice exactly what you would want in an established sanctuary, be it absolute assurances of no regulation of fisheries, a change in name, an inclusion or exclusion of overall protected acreage, specific preference in a management modality or any other changes you would like to see. 

For its part, COAST will be asking for these changes and additions: 1) a change in name to better include all local indigenous entities 2) an administrative board that would not be co-managed by the Chumash, but would be heavily weighted towards local indigenous input (six or seven seats on the board), as well as local stakeholders from various industries, NGO’s and city and county government  3) a very clearly stated intention that the sanctuary not be involved in fishing regulatory practices and recommendations  4) that any other federally recommended industrial projects that are adjacent to the sanctuary meet the standard of the sanctuary itself in non-disturbance of the marine ecosystem, as damages close to the sanctuary boundaries will negatively impact the sanctuary itself

We have a voice in this matter! Most of us would love to see our coastline and oceans be protected for future generations, so don’t summarily negate something just because you don’t like one aspect of it. Ask for change and be part of the process. And please, don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

You have a choice; you have a voice.

Mandy Davis, 

Los Osos, COAST Alliance

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