The Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 directs the state to redesign California's system of marine protected areas (MPAs) to function as a network in order to: increase coherence and effectiveness in protecting the state's marine life and habitats, marine ecosystems, and marine natural heritage, as well as to improve recreational, educational and study opportunities provided by marine ecosystems subject to minimal human disturbance. Six goals guided the development of MPAs in the MLPA planning process:
- Protect the natural diversity and abundance of marine life, and the structure, function and integrity of marine ecosystems.
- Help sustain, conserve and protect marine life populations, including those of economic value, and rebuild those that are depleted.
- Improve recreational, educational and study opportunities provided by marine ecosystems that are subject to minimal human disturbance, and to manage these uses in a manner consistent with protecting biodiversity.
- Protect marine natural heritage, including protection of representative and unique marine life habitats in CA waters for their intrinsic values.
- Ensure California's MPAs have clearly defined objectives, effective management measures and adequate enforcement and are based on sound scientific guidelines.
- Ensure the State's MPAs are designed and managed, to the extent possible, as a network.
To help achieve these goals, three MPA designations (state marine reserves, state marine parks and state marine conservation areas), one marine managed area (state marine recreational management area) and special closures were used in the MPA planning process. For the purposes of MPA planning, a public-private partnership commonly referred to as the MLPA Initiative was established, and the state was split into five distinct regions (four coastal and the San Francisco Bay) each of which had its own MPA planning process. All four coastal regions have completed these individual planning processes. As a result, the coastal portion of California’s MPA network is now in effect statewide. Options for a planning process in the fifth and final region, the San Francisco Bay, have been developed for consideration at a future date.
No. A regional approach was used to redesign MPAs along California's 1,100-mile coast. The state was divided into five study regions:
- Central Coast Study Region (Pigeon Point to Point Conception)
- North Central Coast Study Region (Alder Creek near Point Arena to Pigeon Point, including the Farallon Islands)
- South Coast Study Region (Point Conception to the California/Mexico border)
- North Coast Study Region (California/Oregon border to Alder Creek near Point Arena)
- San Francisco Bay Study Region (waters within San Francisco Bay, from the Golden Gate Bridge northeast to Carquinez Bridge)
These five regions were implemented in a step-wise fashion:
- September 2007: Regulations implemented for Central Coast Study Region
- May 2010: Regulations implemented for North Central Coast Study Region
- January 2012: Regulations implemented for South Coast Study Region
- December 2012: Regulations implemented for North Coast Study Region
- The San Francisco Bay Study Region is the fifth and final study region that will be considered under the MLPA
The MLPA Initiative was established to help the State of California implement the MLPA. From 2004 to 2012, the MLPA Initiative (a public-private partnership between CDFW, the California Natural Resources Agency, and Resources Legacy Fund Foundation) directed and informed four regional, science-guided and stakeholder-driven MPA design and siting processes. This was accomplished by using the best readily-available science and the advice and assistance of scientists, resource managers, experts, stakeholders and members of the public.
Redesigning the system of MPAs along California's 1,100 mile coastline was such a large task that the California coast was divided up into smaller regions to make the process easier. The MLPA Initiative directed and informed the four regional MPA design and siting processes from 2004 to 2012, beginning with the Central Coast Region. In the first phase of the MLPA Initiative, a master plan framework was created to help guide the planning process within individual geographic areas, called study (or planning) regions. After the framework was created, regional MPA planning processes began.
In each study region, an appointed regional stakeholder group developed MPA proposals that were reviewed and evaluated by a science advisory team, the California Department of Fish and Game, MLPA Initiative staff, and a policy-level blue ribbon task force. Based on these evaluations and public input, MPA proposals were then refined by the regional stakeholder group and presented to a blue ribbon task force, which made recommendations to the California Fish and Game Commission, the sole authority empowered to adopt and implement MPAs.
MPAs were designed through a collaborative public process. Regional stakeholder groups were formed that included people who were knowledgeable in the uses and/or resources of the planning region. Members included commercial and recreational anglers, tribal and government representatives, educators, researchers, and conservationists. Each group worked together to design MPA proposals for each region. Once the MPA proposals were completed, they underwent scientific and policy review and were then forwarded to the California Fish and Game Commission for adoption and implementation.
Overview of Alternative Marine Protected Area Proposals (PDF)
The Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (2004 – 2012)
The individual MPA planning/study regions, in the order of completion, were as follows: the Central Coast (Pigeon Point to Point Conception), the North Central Coast (Alder Creek near Point Arena to Pigeon Point), the South Coast (Point Conception to the California/Mexico border), and the North Coast (California/Oregon border to Alder Creek near Point Arena).
The success of the MLPA Initiative depended largely on the active involvement of stakeholders and the general public, who were involved in a variety of ways including: direct communication with RSG members, attendance at workshops and public meetings, and providing input on public documents and MPA proposals as they were developed.
MPAs and the MLPA are intended to complement existing fishery regulations and are not intended to replace existing regulations. MPAs address a broad array of ecosystem concerns and, in particular, allow for interactions between both fished and unfished species to occur in a more natural setting. If any changes to fisheries regulations were required in response to MPAs, this would occur through existing systems established in fisheries management plans and other regulatory frameworks.