“The ocean is a huge part of Latino lives. It is a source of food, jobs, medicine, spirituality, family memories, and the very air we breathe. Its coral reefs protect us from storms, as do the adjacent wetlands that filter our waters. There isn’t a facet of our lives that isn’t touched by the ocean. However, coastal communities are ever more susceptible to the results of pollution and climate change–sea level rise, dead zones, flooding, and coastal disasters.
“Hispanic Access Foundation strongly supports the designation of the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary on behalf of our Latino communities in California.The proposed site has several submerged sacred and historical sites and we must stand with our indigenous partners in working to protect heritage and sacred sites threatened by sea level rise.
“Latinos and other local communities, traditionally underserved, should have equitable access to a clean and safe ocean and coast for recreation, livelihoods, and culture. Wetland, coastal, reef, and underwater ecosystems should be protected and restored to improve coastal resilience to sea level rise, floods, and other effects of climate change. The ocean should be pollution- and plastic-free, as well as free of the threats of offshore drilling and mining that harm local communities and the global climate alike.
“Latinos are also among the fastest-growing demographics living on the ocean and coast, as well as among new recreational fishers, boaters and outdoor enthusiasts. Yet our communities are also among the most vulnerable to an over-polluted ocean with dwindling natural resources. Protecting the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary is a step for progress on these issues and is an opportunity to boost overall equity and well-being in California’s Central Coast region.”
At the end of 2021, the administration released its first annual progress report on the America the Beautiful initiative to conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. The designation of the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary would be an important contribution to California’s 30x30 goals and the national America the Beautiful initiative.