AWA ALERT: Monterey Bay, California. Tell NOAA that only facts and science should influence public boating access, not baseless opinions.

Posted 12.21.06

NOAA has never conducted an Environmental Assessment, nor asked the PWC community for input. Instead, they are proposing to ban personal watercraft with studies conducted 3,000 miles away in the Florida Everglades! As if they are good enough to warrant a complete ban on the California coast.
NOAA is taking action to change the way public safety agencies conduct training using Personal Watercraft, which will result with creating impact for emergency service response! AWA H2O Responders need to respond!

Take action now and let NOAA know that personal opinions and the bias input of extreme no-access groups can not justify prohibiting tens of thousands of citizens from public waters.

We need the PWC Nation to send a short comment using the below link. Five minutes of your time is all it takes.

Should this risky scheme by NOAA continue unchecked, it's very likely they will attempt the same in other Sanctuaries. Get involved now for the future of your Freedom to Ride.

Click on Grassroots activism, and make your voice heard.

AWA H2O Responders form Letter - Action Alert
Click on the link below, choose for occupational use the H2O Responder form or the recreational link
__________________________________________________ _______________________
Towsurfing Activity
OR: Use the letter and template below to send your personal email to NOAA and California's governor
Brady Phillips
JMPR Coordinator
NOAA-National Marine Sanctuary Program
1305 East-West Hwy, N/ORM-6
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Ph: (301) 713-3125, ext 264
Fax: (301) 713-0404

Governor Arnold Schwarzeneeger (R-CA)

State Capitol Bldg.
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-2841
Fax: (916) 445-4633

Dear Sirs,

Please accept my comment on the pending Management Plan for Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Reference: (MPWC restrictions) Personal Watercraft, a recreational boat.

Towsurfers are recreational boaters. Towsurfing is a sport that delivers a surfer into waves using a motorized boat, usually a personal watercraft (a personal watercraft 'PWC' defined by the USCG as a Class A vessel), to match the speed of the wave.

The 'surfer' releases the tow line attached to the stern and free surfs the energy of the wave. The personal watercraft operator observes and retrieves the surfer and tow surf board (aquaplane device), creating a safety threshold between the two activities. Since when did NOAA get involved with regulating surfing? That's what will happen if this activity is banned or reduced to poor management policies from NOAA's summary plan.

Selection of viable locations, time frames, training, safety and education are and have always been concerns for this recreational boating activity, we can effectively embrace these issues by addressing any concerns in this manner.

Understanding the unique partnership that exists between the boat operator and the athlete within this recreational boating activity will help with resolution measures. This is a migratory sport, a ban here will place restrictions on other recreational boating zones elsewhere outside of sanctuary waters. We can work in partnership to resolve any user conflict issues, safety concerns and address educational needs and enforcement measures, instead of a ban, which will create additional burdens to neighboring facilities.

S.E.E. - Safety-Education-Enforcement

We embrace a 3 tier program called S.E.E. Safety, Education and Enforcement. These are the 3 building blocks to successful management of any activity within the MBNMS, including personal watercraft use. Here are some thoughtful considerations that would create a positive partnership for our recreational boating activity:

Strategy MPWC- 1 Nearshore Zone Use
Operation of all motorized vessels as defined by the CaliforniaHarbors and Navigation Code shall be prohibited within 1000 feet of any shore, outcropping or rock within Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary except at idle speed.

Strategy MPWC-2. Nearshore Zone Use and Exceptions.
Tow-in surfing generally takes place in and around 1000 feet from shore.
The MBNMS Draft Management Plan makes substantial mention of the near shore area immediately southwest of Pillar Point, California, (popularly named 'Mavericks') where ideal waves for tow-surfing break several times a year.
The Plan indicates that special administrative provisions must be investigated and regulatory modifications may be necessary to allow MPWCs to tow in surfers at this location.
However, contrary to one finding in the Plan, Mavericks is NOT the only site of its kind in the continental United States. In fact, it is not even the only site of its kind within the boundaries of the Sanctuary. Therefore, in furthering the goal of considering Zone Restriction Exceptions, the following regulatory measures are recommended:

A. Within the Sanctuary itself, there are a number of areas where tow-surfing can be accomplished during the largest swells of the year.
a. Multiple 'Designated Towsurfing Areas.' should be considered. A periodic update for re-designation and addition of other areas should occur every two years.
b. Mavericks is primarily a paddle surfing wave for the mainstay of the big wave season, if only one location is permitted such as Mavericks, NOAA will only serve to reinforce the 'user conflict' issue that created a target for the PWC use of 'towsurfing'.
c. There is minimal risk of conflict with other marine recreationalists (scuba divers, kayakers, swimmers, and paddle surfers) in these areas during periods of high surf due to the danger presented by the surf conditions. Tow-surfing may be allowed provided that the operators must abide by the appropriate regulations:
i. All portions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species act and any other existing local and state laws.
ii. Tow-In surfing may be done during the interval of October 1st to March 31st
iii. Additional tow in vessel operator requirements will be developed in conjunction with California state authorities. NOAA will monitor implementation of such requirements.
iv. Tow-in surfing is not allowed when paddle surfers are present in the break zone. MPWCs may be used for rescues in the Sanctuary at any time.
v. A definition of 'high surf 'needs to be developed that is easy to understand, rational and feasible for access to the multiple tow surfing zones. The subsequent proclamation of high surf conditions is readily distributed in the local community and beyond.
VI. Photo-journalists who utilize personal watercraft inclusion under a permit process due to the historical and cultural documentation that exists for witnessing these ocean waves that have significant worldwide viewer ship via their trade.
VII. Changing the definition of a personal watercraft is not necessary, do not restrict a vessel because of fiberglass design, but manage it with Safety, Education and Enforcement using current California Harbors and Navigation codes that are proven throughout California for over one million boats.

B. No Limits placed on Personal Watercraft Training for the purpose of rescue

i. Personal Watercraft, since their introduction; have been used worldwide since the late 70's for the purpose of lifesaving. The water rescue element is a key component of the towsurfing activity. The grassroots aspect of 'self rescue' and training programs reduces potential liability for public safety agencies, developed from a built in safety mechanism, team training and response.

ii. PWC are valuable rescue vessels used in dynamic water and weather conditions, and have proven themselves for over 2 decades by public safety agencies and volunteers, and towsurfers within and prior to the development of the MBNMS.

iii. Personal Watercraft have been documented worldwide and locally within Sanctuary waters with thousands upon thousands of successful rescues providing a valuable resource for lifesaving. This is undisputable, and specifically applies to the dynamics of ocean rescue.

iv. Public Safety agencies utilize private sector information, equipment, training and knowledge to apply to their job duty use of PWC as a rescue and patrol boat. Private sector training should not be prohibited from training within Sanctuary waters for the purpose of lifesaving. To do so would seriously debilitate rescue response and agency staff personnel safety, and the ability to train for self rescue, thus creating a risk for management and NOAA by placing lives at risk because of a preconceived prejudice against one type of vessel and training programs and needs.

C. Environmental Benefits

i. PWC are valuable recovery vessels for injured marine life.

ii. PWC provide a stable platform for observing and tracking marine life for evaluation or studies

iii. PWC are the most environmentally friendly vessel manufactured today for the purpose of lifesaving.

iv. Low sound and vibration in comparison to other traditional vessels translates into low impact.

iv. Wildlife disturbance is not due to fiberglass construction, but to operator behavior. Personal watercraft operation in the MBNMS has proven no scientific basis or evidence to prove otherwise on the issues of disturbance.