Feds: Mavericks should be zero-impact 

Federal environmental officials today announced a goal of making the Mavericks big wave surf contest a "zero environmental and wildlife impact event.''

The contest, which attracts top surfers from across the globe, takes place within the waters of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

As many as 50,000 spectators could attend the contest, which occurs on 24-hours notice when weather conditions off Pillar Point generate the big waves the contest requires. The potential human impacts of that large crowd include thetrampling of native plants and animals, especially if the event occurs at low tide when hundreds of spectators could venture out into reef habitats. Other concerns include disturbance of harbor seals and nesting seabirds on nearby breeding grounds by foot traffic or low-flying aircraft, according to a statement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees the sanctuary.

"The sanctuary program is cooperating with contest organizers and other agencies in several ways, including implementing a one-day closure of intertidal areas at risk and providing long-range spotting scopes so attendees can see the competition better from a distance,'' Superintendent Maria Brown, who oversees the contest area, said in a statement. "Sanctuary staff and volunteers will be on hand at the event as observers to provide the public with information on wildlife viewing etiquette and to document potential issues of concern.''

The contest window opened on Friday and runs through March 31.

— Bay City News

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