WESPEN Online Order Form print this page
US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

SAN FRANCISCO BAY NWRC: International “Ramsar” Recognition of San Francisco Bay Wetlands Celebrated

Region 8, May 13, 2013
Don Edwards S.F. Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Don Edwards S.F. Bay National Wildlife Refuge - Photo Credit: n/a
 Rowan Gould, Deputy Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, speaking at the Ramsar award event.
Rowan Gould, Deputy Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, speaking at the Ramsar award event. - Photo Credit: n/a
USFWS Deputy Director Rowan Gould, Pacific Southwest Region Refuge Program Chief Marge Kolar, and Don Edwards-San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex staff.
USFWS Deputy Director Rowan Gould, Pacific Southwest Region Refuge Program Chief Marge Kolar, and Don Edwards-San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex staff. - Photo Credit: n/a

By Doug Cordell

At a May 10 ceremony in Tiburon, Calif., U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Deputy Director of Operations Rowan Gould was joined by U.S. Representative Jared Huffman and Mike Sutton, executive director of Audubon California, to celebrate the 2013 designation of the San Francisco Bay as a “Ramsar” Wetland of International Importance, in accordance with the 1971 global convention on wetlands adopted in Ramsar, Iran. Twenty-one Bay Area conservation organizations received Ramsar certificates as part of the San Francisco Bay designation.

“San Francisco Bay is a natural wonder and a critical ecological resource, but it faces a number of threats, including development, pollution, climate change and invasive species,” said Gould in the afternoon ceremony at the Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary in Tiburon. “The Ramsar recognition of the bay as a globally significant wetland is a dramatic statement in favor of protecting this vital estuary for generations to come.”

The designation of the San Francisco Bay as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance was made on World Wetlands Day, Feb. 2, 2013. There are currently six Ramsar sites in California, and thirty-five in the United States. To qualify as a Ramsar site, a wetland must exhibit superlative biodiversity and the presence of rare or unique wetland types. Ramsar sites benefit from increased conservation status and recognition, and can be eligible for greater conservation funding. They also typically benefit from increased tourism, fishing, recreation and public support. Countries that are signatories to the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance nominate sites within their borders for Ramsar designation.

The San Francisco Bay is the largest estuary on the Pacific Coast of the United States, covering 1,600 square miles. Despite losing one third of its size and about 85 percent of its wetlands to development, the bay remains critical ecologically, accounting for more than three quarters of California’s perennial estuarine wetlands. It provides key habitat for a broad range of flora and fauna, and offers flood protection, improved water quality, and carbon sequestration. It also provides an array of economic and social benefits related to ports and industry, agriculture, fisheries, archaeological and cultural sites, recreation and research.

Doug Cordell is the public affairs officer at the San Francisco Bay NWR Complex in Fremont, California.

Contact Info: Pam Bierce, 916-414-6542, pamela_bierce@fws.gov