Environment California Applauds President Obama’s Decision to Double Northern California Marine Sanctuaries

Orders protection of nearly 2,800 square miles of ocean from dangerous oil drilling
For Immediate Release

Washington, DC Today President Obama and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) initiated the doubling of two northern California marine sanctuaries. The expansion area, which stretches across nearly 2,800 square miles from Bodega Bay to Point Arena and out to sea, will protect critical habitat for hundreds of aquatic species, including endangered salmon and sea lions, and prohibit oil and gas exploration.

“Environment California applauds President Obama for protecting California’s coast from dirty and dangerous oil drilling and protecting critical marine habit,” said Nathan Weaver, Oceans Advocate with Environment California.  “This is a huge win for our coasts.”

The sanctuary expansion comes as the latest in a string of victories for California’s marine life and coastline. The state completed its own network of marine protected areas this year, the first in the United States. Over 50 California local governments have voted to ban single use plastic bags, which are often lethal to the marine animals that ingest them and are a major source of the plastic debris building up in the Pacific Ocean.

“We encourage the state to follow this lead and take more action to protect our coast by banning single use plastic bags, expanding California’s protected areas, and getting tough on the millions of tons of trash pollution flowing out to sea,” said Weaver.

NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries will begin a public process to review the boundaries for the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries. The Office expects to complete this review and potential expansion within 18 to 24 months.

A diverse coalition endorsed the expansion, including most of the nearby local governments, fishermen’s associations, and California Governor Jerry Brown. The expansion will augment California’s existing network of marine sanctuaries, which already protect 1,400 square miles of ocean surrounding the Channel Islands and a 7,800 square mile expanse from the Marin County coastline past Monterey Bay and down to Cambria.


Environment California is a state based, citizen funded environmental advocacy organization working toward a cleaner, greener, healthier future.