The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council voted unanimously Friday to send a letter to the governor expressing its concern for the effects of budget cuts on the reserve program.
The council’s letter says all of the reserve’s current employees are needed in order to carry out the minimum function of the reserve. John Ugoretz, council representative from the California Department of Fish and Game, said the state government has already put a freeze on hiring and transferring so it knows who is working for which department and exactly how much each employee costs.
“It’s not about the dollars anymore, it’s the people and our ability to do our job,” Ugoretz said. “The people are what matter because if you cut out the people, we can’t do the work.”
The success of the reserve is dependent on its staff, said Rebecca Roth, federal programs manager for the California Coastal Commission.
“We want the letter to express our support for staffing,” Roth said. “Our employees are necessary in implementing the marine reserve program.”
The meeting was held in the Channel Islands National Park’s headquarters at the Ventura Harbor. The meeting also featured presentations by the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans and the liquid natural gas terminal development project off the coast of Oxnard.
The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary was designated as a marine reserve in 1980. The sanctuary covers approximately 1,252.5 square nautical miles adjacent to the Channel Islands and offshore rocks. Human activity in the reserve includes commercial and recreational fishing, boating, diving, kayaking, maritime shipping, offshore oil and gas development, and research.
The SAC has 24 representatives from the local and federal government, non-governmental agencies and the public at large. The council was formed in December1998 to provide advice to the sanctuary manager.