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Sanctuary seeks ban of new bay invasives

Federal officials are proposing scaled-down regulations to close a loophole they say is threatening more than 300 square miles of federally protected coastal waters in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary with the introduction of non-native and genetically modified species.

The proposed restrictions, which were endorsed by the Gulf of the Farallones’ advisory council on Wednesday, have been pared back from an 2008 proposal that would have put a cap on Tomales Bay mariculture.

The current proposal would allow current and future mariculture with introduced species like oysters, mussels and clams in all 10.3 square miles of Tomales Bay—as well as catch-and-release of the non-native striped bass throughout the sanctuary and in another protected area off of the coast of Monterey.

Staff of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and members of the advisory council have said that aquaculture operations—a nearly $4 million annual harvest in Tomales Bay—are at odds with the agency’s mission to protect and preserve natural habitats. Those statements…