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Help Advance an Indigenous-Led Marine Sanctuary in California

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Call on the Biden Administration to Create the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary

On Nov. 9th 2021, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration advanced the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary into the designation phase after 6 years of consideration. In this initial phase of the designation process, NOAA will hold a public comment period to help determine the boundaries of the sanctuary. Click here to learn more, leave a comment, and help move the Sanctuary forward.

The coastal region near San Luis Obispo, California is the ancestral home of the Northern Chumash people and one of the world’s most biologically diverse regions. The area also hosts 25 threatened, endangered, or critically endangered species, including humpback whales and leatherback sea turtles, and one of the largest remaining kelp forests on the Western Seaboard. 

The Biden Administration is currently considering the creation of the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary (NMS) to protect sacred Chumash sites, hotspots of biodiversity, and vital marine habitats along the California coast. 

The proposed area of the National Marine Sanctuary · Only One

This protection would cover feeding grounds for numerous species of whales and dolphins, sea otter populations, kelp forests, and vital fisheries. It would also provide additional resiliency for marine ecosystems in the face of climate change, warming oceans, losses in marine biodiversity, and impacts to communities, culture, traditions, and economies. 

At a moment when California has lost more than 90 percent of its kelp to warming waters, and a recent oil spill has wreaked havoc on marine life, safeguarding these ecosystems is critical for the future of coastal communities.

The proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary has been on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) nomination list since 2013, but no further action has been taken · Robert Schwemmer / NOAA
Submerged Chumash villages and cultural heritage sites lie under the coastal waters and along the shoreline · Chris Burkard
Underwater towers of kelp provide food and shelter for thousands of fish, invertebrates, and marine mammal species · Claire Fackler / NOAA

The Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary would represent a huge step forward for Indigenous-led conservation in the United States and a major milestone for addressing systemic climate inequality. 

The Chumash are one of the few ocean-going tribes among the First People of the Pacific Coast—the island and marine ecosystems co-evolved with the culture and traditions of the Tribe. As such, the climate crisis disproportionately affects their way of life and their long standing historical relationships with land and sea. 

California is the seventh largest source of fossil fuel in the U.S. · Guillaume Issaly

If the recent oil spill on the California coast told us anything, it’s that we cannot afford continued inaction in protecting vulnerable marine ecosystems and the coastal communities that depend on a thriving, healthy ocean. Creating this marine sanctuary will stave off future oil exploration and exploitation of natural resources, instilling critical protections for both people and the planet.  

Add your name below to urge the Biden Administration to advance the Chumash Heritage Marine Sanctuary immediately. 

6,643 signed. Let’s get to 10K.
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