Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary
- Goal: To ensure the protection of the Central Coast marine life and cultural resources through the designation of an additional marine sanctuary
- Year Started: 2015
- Partner: Northern Chumash Tribal Council
Located right off our coast, the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (NMS) has been recognized as a special place for endangered species, sensitive habitats, and cultural resources. As one of 14 national marine sanctuaries, this underwater park receives special protection through conservation, research, and education. In 2015, the Northern Chumash Tribal Council nominated another area off the California Central Coast to become a sanctuary. The Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary would stretch from Cambria south to Gaviota Creek and offshore to include Rodriguez Seamount, Arguello Canyon, and Santa Lucia Bank. This area includes sacred submerged sites of the Chumash Peoples, important oceanographic features, and prime habitat for marine life. Just as the area around the Channel Islands is worthy of protection, so is this incredible place.
For decades, EDC has advocated for expansion of the Channel Islands NMS towards Gaviota and Point Conception, or for the creation of a new sanctuary that would allow for similar protections. The Chumash Heritage NMS, which was first nominated in 2015, would bridge the gap between the Channel Islands NMS and Monterey Bay NMS, protecting a very important part of the California Coast. EDC is grateful for the leadership of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council in San Luis Obispo, and continues to support their efforts to ensure the permanent protection of this important region of our coast and ocean.
In August 2023, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a proposal to designate 5, 617 square-mile area as the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary. Public comments were accepted through October 25, 2023. EDC submitted a thorough comment letter in support of this designation, requesting the boundary stretch from Cambria down to the Gaviota Coast.