.Opinion: The Past, Present and Future of Protecting Our Coast

Before 1992, few believed we could bring National Marine Sanctuary status to the Monterey Bay—now there’s more to do


Steve Palopoli editor good times santa cruz california

My first-ever cover story for Good Times, back when I worked for this paper as a young journalist in the ’90s, was about the fifth anniversary of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The main things I remember from reporting on it in 1997 were that 1) a lot of people were still stunned that then-Congressmember Leon Panetta and a large group of passionate advocates had been able to pull off this, since environmentalists had been pushing for it for more than two decades (and Ronald Reagan, while president, had nearly killed the effort entirely in 1983); 2) some people were still a bit fearful that this incredible new guarantee of protection for our coastline was somehow going to be yanked away; and 3) scientists were totally upfront about the fact that we had barely scratched the surface of what there was to learn from the vast habitat we were protecting.

As Erin Malsbury’s cover story this week reveals, a lot has changed in 25 years. The Monterey Bay as a national marine sanctuary is a way of life. But I think it’s interesting that though we know a lot more about the waters off our coast now, there is still the feeling that there’s so much more to discover.

I also urge you to read Leonie Sherman’s companion piece in this issue, about the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary. Between them, these stories are not only a commemoration of how we’ve protected our coastal waters in the past, but also an important look at how we need to expand those protections today.

I also want to send out our best hopes for healing to our dear colleague Matt Scott, who has written the “Local Talk” column for many years. Read this week’s “Good Idea” and please donate to his Go Fund Me. Thank you.



A youth sailing class in the bay. Photograph by Susan Japinga.

Submit to ph****@go*******.sc. Include information (location, etc.) and your name. Photos may be cropped. Preferably, photos should be 4 inches by 4 inches and minimum 250dpi.



This one’s personal: we ask you to support a beloved member of both the Good Times extended family and the larger Santa Cruz community, Matthew Cole Scott. Scott, who many locals will know from his years photographing and writing GT’s “Local Talk” column before the pandemic, was severely injured in a motorcycle accident on July 1, and airlifted from Dominican Hospital to Natividad Trauma Center in Salinas in critical condition. According to family friends, he was still on a ventilator as of last weekend. Donate at https://gofund.me/b3c7cc86.



Last week, Cabrillo College Robotics Club announced that it won first place in the MATE ROV Competition, a worldwide underwater robotics competition. Ciaran Farley, Isaac Wax, and Spencer Koontz represented Cabrillo’s robotics club at this year’s 20th Championship. The team won First Place Overall in the Pioneer Division, as well as the Engineering Presentation Champion award and the Technical Documentation Champion award.


“The world’s finest wilderness lies beneath the waves.”

—Robert Wyland


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