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National Archives

Public Papers - 1992 - June

Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on Creation of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary


As outlined in his FY 1993 budget, the President authorized the creation of the Nation's largest marine sanctuary off Monterey, CA, and approved a strict management regime including a permanent ban on oil and gas development for the area, which includes a wide variety of pristine habitats.

The 5,312 square mile area proposed by the President was the largest option studied. With modifications only to exclude one minor area of lower resource value, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary would be the Nation's largest, bigger than the State of Connecticut and larger than any of the national parks in the lower 48 States, including Yosemite and Yellowstone. It contains the largest underwater canyon in North America and is home to an expanding population of sea otters and a wide variety of whales, porpoises, seals, fish, and sea birds, including many endangered and threatened species.

The sanctuary will be overseen by the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Notice of Availability for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Final Environmental Impact Statement/Management Plan will appear in the Federal Register Friday, June 19, 1992. There is a 30-day public comment period, which closes July 20, 1992. After review of public comments received on the impact statement, the notice of designation and the final regulations will be published in the Federal Register.

The President requested .289 million for the national marine sanctuaries program in his fiscal year 1993 budget, an increase of nearly 50 percent from the FY 1992 appropriated level of million for the 10 sanctuaries in existence; 0,600 was specifically identified in the budget increase for Monterey Bay Sanctuary's first year of operation.

The sanctuary is also home to the Nation's most expansive kelp forests, which provide food and shelter for the thousands of marine species which dwell there. The bay is the closest-to-shore deep ocean environment anywhere in the continental United States, straddles two major ecological regions, subtropical and temperate, and provides a unique area for extensive ocean research and education.

The Monterey Sanctuary will be the 11th in a network that spans from American Samoa to the Florida Keys and includes pristine coral reefs, the Civil War ironclad U.S.S. Monitor, the Channel Islands, and the Gulf of the Farallones, also off the coast of California. With the addition of Monterey Bay, President Bush will have designated three new sanctuaries, more than tripling the area protected under this program.

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