Larger sections of ocean are now protected

Marine sanctuaries offshore California expanded


SAN FRANCISCO, June 11, 2015 – The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has expanded two marine areas north of San Francisco.

The sanctuaries are called the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank and have more than doubled in size. The Gulf of the Farallones was established in 1981 and has grown to 8,534 square kilometres from 3,320. Cordell Bank, instituted in 1989, has increased to 3,331 square kilometres from 1,370.

Both sections of ocean are banned from any offshore drilling activity, but remain accessible to cargo ships, personal vessels and air traffic.

NOAA, which is charged with monitoring and protecting the country’s marine areas, first began an effort to expand the areas in December 2012 and obtained preliminary approval in March.


“This expansion represents the culmination of a multiyear effort to protect an important part of the ocean,” said John Armor, acting director of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “We look forward to working with our partners in these sanctuaries’ communities.”

Offshore exploration has been limited since a major oil spill occurred in Santa Barbara in 1969.

The decision comes after a pipeline operated by US company Plains All American Pipeline leaked oil last month, creating an oil slick stretching 15 kilometres along the coastline of Santa Barbara.