“They are blaming us for public safety issues,” said Mary Jane Schramm, spokeswoman for the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, which manages the Monterey sanctuary. “It’s their choice. It’s their judgment” to be out there.
The restrictions on personal motorized watercraft were first adopted in 1994. Maria Brown, the superintendent of the Gulf of the Farallones and Monterey Bay National Marine sanctuaries, said the rules are necessary to protect marine mammals, seabirds, invertebrates and plants. At the time the regulations were being reviewed, Brown said, even surfers voiced concern over their own safety by threats from fast-moving motorized vessels. Craft such as Jet Skis not only flush birds and scare wildlife, Brown and others said, but they could ram into marine mammals that feed on the surface near the shore. There is also pollution from the exhaust fumes.
Schramm said controlling Jet Skis is particularly important along the Peninsula coastline this time of year because there is a harbor seal rookery in that area and it is breeding season. Sea otters are also seen in the area, and gray whales are currently migrating along the coastline, which extends from Marin County to San Luis Obispo. (as reported by the Standard-Examiner here)
Jacob Trette’s parents [Jacob nearly drowned at Mavs in January before being rescued by a photographer on a Jet ski] joined many Maverick’s surfers in urging governmental agencies with jurisdiction over Maverick’s and other high-risk ocean areas to review regulations that currently ban personal watercraft in national marine sanctuaries, except, in this case, for the official one-day Maverick’s competition. Still, big-wave surfing is an inherently dangerous sport and the surfers who make the difficult trek to line up at Maverick’s know what they’re getting into.
Do they expect to die doing what they love? Probably not — although mountain climbers and other extreme-sports enthusiasts have long testified to the rush that defying imminent death brings to their pursuit.
It’s amazing more people haven’t died at Maverick’s. Relaxing the federal government ban, and allowing personal watercraft to legally patrol the break, would seem to be the wisest alternative, although the known risks of riding mountains of water in spooky conditions won’t diminish.