Through education, conservation, science, and stewardship, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary provides protection to its extraordinary natural and cultural resources so that nature can thrive, historic shipwrecks and artifacts remain respectfully in place, cultural connections remain strong, and careful public use and enjoyment can be sustained. Designated in 1980 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the sanctuary spans 1,470 square miles surrounding five of the Channel Islands: San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa and Santa Barbara.
In 2002 the California Fish and Game Commission established a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) within the nearshore waters of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (sanctuary). NOAA expanded the MPA network into the sanctuary's deeper waters in 2006 and 2007. The entire MPA network consists of 11 marine reserves where all take and harvest is prohibited, and two marine conservation areas that allow limited take of lobster and pelagic fish.
Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is responsible for the protection and preservation of submerged remains of the past that occupy the bottomlands of the sanctuary. Cultural and historic submerged sites include archaeological remains of shipwrecks and prehistoric land sites. Sanctuary stewardship responsibilities include a mandate to inventory sites, encourage research, provide public education and oversee responsible visitor use.
The waters surrounding the Channel Islands provide present day man with a window into past cultures. Located at the islands are the remains of perhaps the earliest island
inhabitants, dating back 13,000 years BP. Historically the islands were a special place to the Native Americans known as the Chumash who traveled to the islands in plank canoes called tomols. “As with other coastal indigenous nations, Chumash people are restoring our heritage of intimacy with the sea for the dual purpose of protecting her and as a means of rediscovering our dignity and identity as a people sprung from this place.” Roberta R. Cordero Member and co-founder of the Chumash Maritime Association
Visiting the Channel Islands
Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, located off the coast of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties in California, is one of 14 federally designated marine protected area administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), within the Department of Commerce. The sanctuary encompasses 1,110 square nautical miles (1,470 square miles) of water from mean high tide to six nautical miles offshore of Santa Barbara, Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel islands. The sanctuary is a special place for species close to extinction, sensitive habitats, shipwrecks and maritime heritage artifacts. Many valuable commercial and recreational activities, such as fishing, shipping, and tourism occur in the sanctuary. A comprehensive ecosystem- based management approach is used to promote long term conservation of sanctuary waters, wildlife, habitats, and cultural resources, while allowing compatible human uses. The sanctuary’s remote, isolated position at the confluence of two major ocean currents creates remarkable biodiversity. The mingling of cool, nutrient-rich waters from the north with warm currents from the south form a dynamic transition zone that is home to a myriad of sea life from microscopic plankton to blue whales.