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Cordell Bank named a marine sanctuary.

The marine waters surrounding Cordell Bank, off Point Reyes, Calif., were designated as a national marine sanctuary, placing the area under the protection and management of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), by that agency in May 1989. The sanctuary encompasses a 397.05 n.mi..sup. 2 area of waters 20 n.mi. west of Point Reyes, 50 n.mi. west-northwest of San Francisco, and just north of the existing Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. The regulations implementing the designation include a prohibition on oil and gas activities in the core of the sanctuary, an area of about 18.14 n.mi.sub.2.

Simultaneously with publishing these regulations, NOAA proposed a regulatory expansion of the ban on oil and gas activities to the rest of the sanctuary. NOAA is preparing a supplemental environmental impact statement on the proposal and will be soliciting public comments on the matter.

Title Ill of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972, as amended, authorizes the Secretry of Commerce to designate National Marine Sanctuaries of special national significance for the purpose of protecting and conserving special, discrete, highly productive marine areas and ensuring the continued availability of the ecological, research, educational, aesthetic, historic, and recreational resources located within the sanctuary. The designation and implementing of the area's regulations automatically take effect after the close of a review period of 45 days of continuous session of Congress unless the designation or any of its terms is disapproved by Congress through enactment of a joint resolution.

Cordell Bank, which lies on an underwater plateau 300-400 feet below the surface, consists of a series of steepsided ridges and narrow pinnacles rising from the edge of the continental shelf to within about 115 feet of the surface. Abundant nutrients combine with high light penetration and a wide range of water depths to produce a unique biological community of subtidal and oceanic algae, invertebrates, fish, marine mammals, and seabirds. The designation brings to eight the national marine sanctuaries protected and managed by NOAA. The others are Gulf of the Farallones Islands and the Channel Islands off California, Fagatele Bay in American Samoa, Looe Key and Key Largo off Florida, Gray's Reef off South Carolina, and the site of the wreck of the Civil War ironclad Monitor, off North Carolina.
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Title Annotation:off Point Reyes, California
Publication:Marine Fisheries Review
Date:Jun 22, 1989
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