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Oceans: Shipping lane adjustments may help reduce whale strikes off the coast of California

Gray whale breaching, NOAA photo

Gray whale. Photo courtesy Merrill Gosho/NOAA.

Maritime authorities seek to protect marine mammals, ease shipping flow

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Whales off the busy California coast will get a bit more breathing room, as the International Maritime Organization will adjust several shipping lanes, including  routes that cross three national marine sanctuaries.

“This is a win-win situation, backed by NOAA research, that allows for enhanced protection of endangered whales and natural resources while at the same time increasing maritime safety,” said William J. Douros, west coast regional director of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “We are pleased with the shipping industry and the IMO’s decision to support the proposed amendments.” Continue reading

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Oceans: Feds eye expansion of California marine sanctuaries

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California marine sanctuaries to be expanded.

Input sought on changes to protected areas off northern California coast

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A biodiversity hotpot off the coast of California could soon be expanded, as NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries begins a process to review the boundaries of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries.

The sanctuaries already protect about 2,000 square miles of ocean near the coast of San Francisco. The proposed expansion area is north of the existing sanctuaries and extends from Bodega Bay in Sonoma County to Alder Creek in Mendocino County. This area encompasses Point Arena — North America’s most intense “upwelling” site — which is home to diverse species and a productive ecosystem.

“The waters off the northern California coast are incredibly nutrient-rich and drive the entire natural system and, for almost a decade, local communities have been petitioning their elected officials to expand sanctuary protection to these areas,” said Daniel J. Basta, director of the NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. Continue reading

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