A Welcome to the Exploration of Davidson Seamount

Sam Farr, Member of Congress

It is with great pleasure and pride that I welcome the Davidson Seamount Exploration to the central coast of California. Congratulations to NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration, in collaboration with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS), Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, Alliance for Coastal Technologies, and Monterey Bay Aquarium, on selecting Davidson Seamount as a site to explore the biology and geology of this unique Habitat. The Davidson Seamount is the largest known seamount in U.S. waters, and it holds a special place in my heart since it lies just adjacent to the MBNMS boundary.

On June 12, 2000, President Clinton directed NOAA to work in partnership with marine research institutions and universities to explore the deep sea with a special focus on the Davidson Seamount. NOAA's 2002 voyage marks the second exploratory visit to the Seamount. In May 2000, MBARI and MBNMS conducted the first direct investigation of life on and around the Seamount. This expedition included both geological surveys and studies of the marine mammal and seabird species that benefit from the unique conditions found around the Seamount. With the discovery of new marine species, the recognition of the Seamount's importance to sperm whales and other pelagic species, and the potential for fishery impacts there, the Davidson Seamount has become a site of great resource management interest.

The National Marine Sanctuary Program is, in many ways, the ocean equivalent to our land-based National Forest Service. Both programs are mandated to protect natural resources while promoting public and private uses of these resources that are compatible with the mandate of protection and conservation. An additional and important mandate of the sanctuary program is to conduct public outreach and education that will improve public awareness of ocean and sanctuary resources. The misconception of an immutable ocean with infinite resources is beginning to shift to the true perception of an ever-changing ocean with real limits-- of a living resource that is fully deserving of our respect and protection. The Davidson Seamount Exploration holds special significance for our California coast and the nation because of its ability to illuminate the possibilities--and limitations-- held deep in the ocean.

Congress established the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in 1992 at the behest of the people who live along the central California coast. It is wonderful and empowering for me to know that this part of the coastline and ocean will be protected and enjoyed by future generations because of the concerns of citizens for the living resources in the Monterey Bay. Our Sanctuary encompasses over 5,300 square miles and stretches from Marin County southward to Cambria in San Luis Obispo County. Within this expansive area, we can find an extreme variety of ocean and coastal habitats, ranging from majestic kelp forests and wind-swept sandy beaches to one of the largest submarine canyons of the world. The entire area is nourished by nutrient-rich upwelling that supports an exceptionally rich and abundant marine ecosystem, including endangered and threatened species such as the California sea otter and stellar sea lion.

I am a fifth-generation Californian and have lived the large majority of my life within the spray of Pacific Ocean waves. I have a deep passion for the oceans and ocean issues. I have worked constantly to bolster land and ocean resource initiatives designed to save essential fish habitat and to provide the nation's marine sanctuaries with additional opportunities to sustain themselves financially.

In the State Assembly, I authored the Californian Ocean Resources Management Act (CORMA). I was also chair of the Council of State Governments' "Ocean's Task Force," comprised of the Western states and Pacific Islands. In addition, I authored the Coastal Lean-Up law that has grown into a worldwide event. The National Ocean Conference of 1998, the first of its kind, took place on the shores of the Monterey Sanctuary. Participants included President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, several heads of government departments and agencies, eight members of Congress, and numerous representatives of fisheries, industry, academia, non-governmental organizations and military. The National Ocean Conference was a historic event that brought together for the first time stakeholders in ocean resources to begin the critical dialogue on how best to manage, conserve, explore, and sustain our oceans and marine resources for the future.

As a nation, we are becoming increasingly aware of how the quality of our lives is integrally linked to the health of the oceans. If the United States is to meet the challenges of the 21st century, we must continue to invest our efforts toward a better understanding and protection of the oceans' processes and resources. There is much work and research to be done by Congress, scientists, and citizens before we can understand the depths and secrets of our oceans and adequately protect their resources and treasures. The partnerships formed during this Exploration offer unique and exciting possibilities for discovering and protecting this unique habitat and the species that live there.

Thank you to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary for leading this important project. Exploration is great and exciting. An expedition like this provides the public and managers an awareness of wonders and new opportunities, which will lead to the critical science needed for effective policy. I wish I could be there with you! Good luck!


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