The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has rejected a proposal from California, citing a few conditions why the nomination to establish the Chumash Heritage as a National Marine Sanctuary was not approved.
In a statement, Daniel Basta, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries director, notified Fred Collins from the Northern Chumash Tribal Council that their proposal has been rejected but pointed out that they may resubmit a nomination. Taking note of the reasons why their prior submission was rejected will help in improving their chances of passing the reviews in place for National Marine Sanctuary nominations.
According to Basta, the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries utilizes three reviews to determine the merit of a nomination. First, the sufficiency review gauges if a proposal contains all the information the agency will need to carry out a more thorough assessment. After passing the sufficiency review, a proposal enters the second phase of the review where it is compared against four national significance criteria. For the third and last phase of the review, the proposal will be evaluated using seven management considerations.
He recommended that Collins and the Northern Chumash Tribal Council elaborate on how uses and activities (both current and future) threaten resources, values, qualities and significance in the area. How a proposed site offers unique management and conservation value must also be included, as well as details on non-regulatory options that may be implemented to best manage resources in and around the nominated area.
In the proposal Collins sent, establishing the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary also has cultural significance as protecting the waters will also secure the ancient villages laying underwater in the Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties.
"Designation of the proposed California Central Coast Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary will ensure the continued protection of one of the most important, culturally and biologically diverse, unique and ecologically rich coastlines in the world," he wrote [pdf].
Should the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary have been approved, it will not impact current treaties in place for fishing rights. Sanctuary boundaries will also end at the mouth of the harbor. Debris from dredging operations will be directed offshore, with sanctuary officials working with harbors to determine exact locations to be used. Disposal sites previously approved will remain active.
Other nominations declined by the NOAA include the Eubalaena Oculina in Florida and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. Successful nominations usually take between two and four years to complete.