Dear Dr. Richard Spinrad and Director William Douros,
We write to express our strong support of the designation of the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary in order to protect ocean biodiversity and habitats and advance Indigenous co-management of the ocean. We specifically support the name “Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary” to honor the cultural history and stewardship of California Tribal peoples and the sanctuary boundary depicted in the Notice of Intent published on November 10, 2021.
The proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary (NMS) would protect sacred Chumash cultural sites, hotspots of biodiversity, and productive marine habitats along the California coast. It includes feeding grounds for numerous species of whales and dolphins, sea otter populations, kelp forests, and is home to vital commercial, recreational, and Tribal fisheries.
Our national marine sanctuaries conserve areas of national significance in our oceans and Great Lakes for future generations, advance critical scientific research and citizen science, build resilience to address climate change and biodiversity loss, and support education and engagement to allow more students and children to learn about America’s rich natural and cultural history.
Specifically, we recommend the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration adopt sanctuary regulations that protect wildlife, water quality, and cultural values including a prohibition on new offshore oil and gas development or deep-sea mining; phase out existing fossil fuel infrastructure and leases; and develop programs to reduce pollution from land and ocean-based sources. We support new educational programs that focus on both ocean ecology and Tribal culture and encourage special attention towards underserved communities and bilingual outreach. We also urge development of research programs that address the impacts of climate change and encourage community science and elevating use of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) to enhance ecosystem-based management.
Thank you for your consideration of these comments.
CC: Paul Michel, Regional Policy Coordinator, NOAA Sanctuaries West Coast Region