The National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council met Thursday to tackle the issues of preservation and the enhancement of marine life.
Thursday’s discussion was the second, public part of a two-day meeting of the 12 National Marine Sanctuaries chairs at the Chase Palm Park Center in Santa Barbara. The Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC) included representatives from sanctuaries in the Florida Keys, the Gulf of the Farallones, Thunder Bay and the Santa Barbara Channel Islands.
SAC conducts research on disruptions to sea life, threats to aquaculture, and reproductive and migratory patterns of sea creatures. The council focuses on the discharge of materials into the marine sanctuaries, military activities and acoustic impacts, which have a negative impact on both surface and sea life.
Mary Jane Schramm of the Gulf of the Farallones Sanctuary said kayaking, dive boats and other activities have an effect on the shark population because they chase away prey.
Cable and pipeline installation are a threat to many of the sanctuaries, said Al Brooks, vice chair of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary in Washington. Industrialization of sanctuary territory often involves the removal of native plants and animals.
“These types of things are better formed around the sanctuary than through it – avoid it if you can. We should prohibit it if we can,” Brooks said.
Telling people who live near a sanctuary about what it is and does is a good way to reduce the toll humans take on ocean ecosystems, including disrupting sea mammals’ feeding patterns and reproduction, said Stephanie Harlan, chair of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary.
“Each sanctuary needs a PR person to inform the community on what sanctuaries are and what they do,” Harlan said. “The more people know and understand marine resources, the more willing they will be to protect them. There is a need for positive images [of scientific research].”
The sanctuaries also have a responsibility to preserve the historical remains of maritime culture, said Tim Jones of the Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale Sanctuary. One way to do that, he said, is to involve island natives in preservation because of their knowledge of and historical relationship with marine life.
“It should be national policy for our sanctuaries to anoint seats for the community natives,” Jones said. “They bring a cultural overlay that Western research scientists and management don’t have.”
Locally, the Channel Islands Sanctuary is host to over 27 species of whales and dolphins – including the blue, humpback and sei whales – and seabird colonies including the brown pelican.