WASHINGTON (CN) – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is considering expanding the boundaries of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary to include the waters from Pacifica to San Francisco, California.
Conditions in that stretch of the Pacific Ocean were considered incompatible with sanctuary regulations when the Monterey Bay sanctuary was designated in 1992.
Heavy marine traffic, effluent overflow from San Francisco’s then antiquated water treatment facility and the pollutants being raised by dredging activities lead the NOAA to exclude the area that became known as the San Francisco-Pacifica Exclusion Area, between the Monterey sanctuary to the South and the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary to the North.
Conditions have changed dramatically since 1992 the agency says with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Oceanside Wastewater Treatment Plant operating for 17 years without a permit violation. In addition, inbound and outbound vessels from the San Francisco Bay have been diverted to offshore of the exclusion area and dredge materials are reported to be clean and are permitted under the Environmental Protection Agency.
Inclusion in the Monterey Bay sanctuary would provide protection for seascape, wildlife, shipwrecks, for an additional seventy-seven square nautical miles, from the waters west of the Golden Gate Bridge to the current sanctuary boundaries.
The NOAA will now begin a year long review of the environmental impact of such an expansion and is asking the public to comment by Oct. 10.