Monterey Bay

Sanctuary Sup Series: June 24th

Sanctuary Sup Series

Topic: Sanctuary History-- Grassroots to Congress: 1970's to 1992 designation

On June 24th, 2021, almost 100 “Sup’ers,” (sanctuary Sup attendees,) were treated to a talk from former US Congressman Sam Farr, retired O’Neill Sea Odyssey executive director Dan Haifley, and a surprise appearance from former US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.  These three members of the board of directors of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation recounted their first-hand accounts of how the local community came together to fight off-shore oil drilling in the 1970’s, and how under their leadership, they all navigated the path to sanctuary designation in 1992.  This Sup event was one of a series of one-hour, virtual, lunch-time speaker’s events, hosted by the Foundation, as a way to stay connected to our sanctuary supporters, while being educated, informed and entertained.

Foundation executive director Ginaia Kelly welcomed the Sup’ers and described its current mission, to leave a thriving Monterey Bay Sanctuary to future generations by protecting wildlife and habitats, advancing scientific understanding, and inspiring the public to be its stewards. Haifley then started off the talk by describing the grassroots efforts and politics that shaped the creation of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. He shared the timeline that was the story of citizen involvement, community organization, and political movements. He left us with a rousing quote and call to action from Sylvia Earle: “Protect your life support systems as if everything you care about depends upon it, because it does.”  Secretary Panetta reminded us that our lives were intertwined with the beauty of the Monterey Bay and that the sanctuary exists because everyone came together to protect the sanctuary when it was threatened. He then introduced our second speaker, former U.S. Congressman Farr, who reminded us that “scenery was the politics that started all this.” And he said that never in all his years in politics had he ever seen such a tremendous coming-together of agriculture, business and the environmental community that eventually produced the legislature to protect Monterey Bay. He also shared his view that California history began in the Monterey Bay: “This is more than a bay, this is where Western Civilization on the west coast began.”

Their presentations were followed by a brief Q&A section where they all reminded us that we must remain stewards of our sanctuary; It’s a political instrument which protects the sanctuary from offshore drilling and that instrument that could be reversed in the future, if we are not vigilant.

To close out our time together, Foundation Director Kelly announced our next opportunity to connect in person will be the annual Sanctuary Sea Stars Brunch, held at the Monterey Plaza Hotel on September 19, 2021!  See website for more details.

Dan Haifley was Executive Director of O’Neill Sea Odyssey, served as Chief Aide and District Chief for California State Senator Henry J. Mello from 1993 until 1996 and Executive Director of Save Our Shores – where he worked on local laws in California aimed at onshore facilities for offshore oil and helped lead the citizen movement to designate Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary – from 1986 to 1993. Dan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from University of California, Santa Cruz.

He serves on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council, and the Board of Directors of Catamaran Literary Reader. From April 2008 until March 2019 he published an ocean column in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. He is married to Rebecca Haifley and has two grown children, Aaron and Julia, and enjoys ocean kayaking, reading, and exploring our region’s wild areas.

Former Congressman Sam Farr is fifth-generation Californian who grew up in the Monterey Bay region and represented the region in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 until his retirement in 2016.

Farr has long been an advocate for our oceans. He is an original co-chair of the bipartisan House Oceans Caucus, and wrote the legislation to establish a National Ocean Policy. In 1980, he was elected to the California State Assembly, where he was known for writing one of the nation’s strictest oil spill liability laws. During his tenure in the state assembly, Farr worked with then-Congressman Leon Panetta and the late Senator Henry Miller in creating the Monterey Bay National Maine Sanctuary. Farr first held elective office when he became a Monterey County Supervisor in 1975. Farr and his wife Shary are longtime residents of Carmel.

Secretary Leon Panetta is the chairman of the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, The Panetta Institute provides a variety of study opportunities in government, politics and public policy for the California University System. Secretary Panetta has had a fifty-year career in public service at the highest levels of Government. He served in the Obama Administration first as CIA Director and then as Secretary of Defense from 2009-2013.

Prior to 1997 when he co-founded the Panetta Institute with his wife Sylvia Panetta, he served from 1993-1997 in the Clinton Administration as director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and later was appointed White House chief of staff. Elected to Congress in 1976, Secretary Panetta represented the California Central Coast district for 16 years and led in the creation of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

He chronicles his life in public service in his best-selling memoir Worthy Fights, which was published in the fall of 2014.


Please contact Ginaia Kelly, 831-359-7071,