SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) sent the following letter to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in support of the designation of the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary. In the letter, Addis urged NOAA to forgo the agency-preferred alternative that excludes ocean waters off Morro Bay and Cayucos from protection in favor of a sanctuary that unifies the entire ocean area off the Central Coast. Addis submitted her letter to NOAA before the end of the comment period on October 25, 2023.
The text of the letter is below.
October 17, 2023
Mr. Paul Michel
West Coast Region Policy Coordinator
NOAA Sanctuaries West Coast Regional Office
99 Pacific Street, Building 100F
Monterey, CA 93940
Subject: Support for Designation of the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary Including the Waters off of Morro Bay and Cayucos
Dear Mr. Michel,
As the California State Assemblymember representing the 30th Assembly District, which runs along 200 miles of California's coast and includes the oceans off of San Luis Obispo, Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, I offer my strong support for the designation of the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary. Protecting ocean health off of California's coast is urgent, and our approach must be comprehensive - including both conservation and climate action. Therefore, I applaud NOAA's proposed expansion to the south along the Gaviota coast. However, I urge you to forgo the proposed exclusion of ecologically and culturally rich ocean and coastline areas of Morro Bay and Cayucos that would leave those areas unprotected.
Morro Bay is my home. It's where my husband and I raised two children. It's where I taught in public schools and served on the city council. First peoples who see the ocean as sacred have lived here for millennia. Additionally Morro Bay is a fishing village and a place where hundreds of thousands of people visit every year for its natural beauty. Our economy is dependent on the ocean and its sea life. Our collective ability to thrive hinges on our ocean's health.
Like many people, my perspective and inspiration come from where my home is. It's why I ran for office and why I serve on the California Ocean Protection Council. It's why I founded the Central Coast Legislative Caucus - to protect, promote, and celebrate what makes my home and the entire Central Coast special. Therefore, I strongly urge you to include the protection of the vital Pacific waters off of Morro Bay and Cayucos, along with the vast array of marine life and sacred places like Morro Rock, in the sanctuary boundary. Doing so will recognize the ecological and cultural significance of this ocean area and its importance to the people who live here.
NOAA has stated that the Agency-Preferred Alternative sanctuary boundary excludes areas off of the coast of Morro Bay and Cayucos due to potential conflicts with offshore wind energy infrastructure needs. Fundamentally we must both protect and preserve our oceans while combating the climate crisis - a crisis that is causing a rise in ocean temperatures and subsequent loss of sea life, feeding grounds, and hospitable habitat. The critical work necessary to achieve these goals is a part of the same mission. While I applaud NOAA's attempt to work collaboratively, the proposed exclusion is neither the only, nor the desired, approach. In fact, prior sanctuary designations show us that there are pathways for multiple critical uses within sanctuary boundaries. Therefore, I urge NOAA to take expansive, creative and bold action to craft a unified sanctuary that encompasses the entire Central Coast ocean area.
Assemblymember, 30th District
cc: U.S. Congressman Salud Carbajal
U.S. Congressman Jimmy Panetta
State Senator John Laird
State Senator Monique Limon
Assemblymember Gregg Hart
Sam Cohen, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, Government Affairs and Legal Officer
Chairwoman Violet Sage Walker, Northern Chumash Tribal Council
Slo'w Gutierrez, Wot Brotherhood of the Tomol
Michael Khus, Northern Chumash Bear Clan
Rosemary Lopez, Coastal Band of Chumash Nation
Roberta Cordero, Coastal Band of Chumash Nation
PJ Webb, Chumash Heritage NMS Advisor
Gianna Patchen, Chumash Heritage NMS Executive Assistant
Andrew Christie, Santa Lucia Sierra Club Representative
Dawn Addis was elected to the California State Assembly in 2022 to represent the coastal 30th Assembly District, which includes large portions of San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties and the south-eastern area of Santa Cruz County.
CONTACT: Jim Evans, 916-319-2030