MARY JANE SCHRAMM Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary
In testimony at the November 19th Congressional Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Field Hearing in San Francisco on the Cosco Busan Oil Spill, the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary’s Beach Watch volunteer coastal monitoring program received recognition from panelists for its preparedness and quick deployment of trained citizens in the oil spill response effort. Dr. William Connor, Chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Response and Restoration HAZMAT (Hazardous Materials) Emergency Response Division, noted that Beach Watch volunteers who had participated in the 2006 Safe Seas oil spill exercise in San Francisco were mobilized on the morning of the second day of the Cosco Busan incident. In addition, Zeke Grader, Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Association, commended the deployment of Beach Watch volunteer “citizen stewards” along the coast to monitor and document the oil and assist with the clean-up efforts. Approximately 70 marine sanctuary volunteers responded to the incident.
Since Fall 1993 Beach Watch has conducted shoreline surveys within NOAA’s Gulf of the Farallones and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries, spanning 150 miles of coast from Point Año Nuevo in San Mateo County north to Bodega Head in Sonoma County. National marine sanctuaries are areas that are congressionally designated to conserve, protect, and enhance their biological diversity, cultural legacy, and ecological values. There are three national marine sanctuaries outside the Golden Gate of San Francisco.
Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary’s Beach Watch coastal monitoring program offers volunteers the opportunity to contribute directly to the health of our marine sanctuaries. Beach Watch surveyors conduct regularly scheduled beach surveys for short-term and long-term monitoring of the state of the outer coast. Surveyors provide sanctuary management with baseline information on wildlife observed, and physical coastal conditions.
Between 80 and 100 volunteers from all walks of life participate in the Sanctuary Beach Watch program conducted in partnership with the Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association, with an average annual retention rate of 85%. In 2004, volunteers contributed 15,668 hours in the program, for an in-kind value of $309,379. Evidence gathered through Beach Watch aids the Federal government when documenting damages from oil to wildlife and habitats. In 1996, this resulted in a $7.7 million settlement from a spill