Marine Protected Areas

Marine Protected Areas Work!

Enjoy this video about the Laguna MPAs created by the Laguna Bluebelt Coalition

What is the Marine Life Protection Act?

In 1999, California made history when The Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) was signed, directing the state to reexamine and redesign California’s system of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).  Bringing together scientists, fishermen, conservationists, business owners, residents, and Fish & Game officials, it created a long-term plan to restore and protect California’s most unique and threatened marine environments.

What are MPAs?

Just as parks on land protect special lands and wildlife from overdevelopment, these underwater parks preserve California’s stunning marine ecosystems for future generations to observe and enjoy.  The first of its kind in the nation, these areas have been called “hope spots” because they are our best hope in restoring the beauty and bounty of ocean life threatened by overfishing, pollution and habitat destruction.

California now leads the nation and the world in ocean protection, ensuring the preservation of ecosystems close to home- from the Channel Islands and Laguna Beach to Crystal Cove and Dana Point.

Why is this necessary?

Scientific studies have shown that marine protected areas help restore depleted fish and wildlife populations.  In fully protected reserves, scientists have observed many benefits including higher abundance, larger and more fertile individuals, and more resilient marine populations.

A Sheltered Sea – Southern Passage is a great short film that further explains the pressing issues our oceans face and how marine protected areas work to tackle some of those problems.

Our Role

On December 15, 2010, after hours of public comment and 2 years of meetings, the Fish and Game Commission voted to approve a system of Marine Protected Areas for the South Coast Region.  The final array of MPAs is a compromise solution that Coastkeeper is proud to have participated in reaching.

SouthCoast_EducationalMap_StateFed_NoBold_Small (1)Get Involved!

Enjoy your marine reserves!  Thriving protected areas provide a great environment for swimming, kayaking, diving, snorkeling and tidepooling.

Throughout California, residents are embracing marine reserves and joining local efforts to monitor them. Learn more about becoming an MPA Watch volunteer here.  They are making a difference in ocean protection – and you can too! Visit the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website for online maps of all the marine protected area networks or visit the mobile site to identify underwater parks in your area.

A Sheltered Sea – Southern Passage is a great short film that further explains the pressing issues our oceans face and how marine protected areas work to tackle some of those problems.

Here’s a list of MPA designations:

  • State Marine Reserve (SMR): fully protects fish, wildlife, and habitat from all extractive activities.
  • State Marine Park (SMP): allows for some recreational fishing.
  • State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA): allows for some consumptive recreational and commercial activities.

 

History of Development and Support

Southern Sea Otter 2- Moss Landing- Steve Lonhart NOAA MBNMS (1)A regional approach was used in the MLPA Initiative process, in which California’s 1,100-mile coastline was divided into five study regions.  In September of 2007, regulations for the first study region were implemented along the Central Coast (Pigeon Point in San Mateo County to Point Conception in Santa Barbara County).  On August 5, 2009, the Fish and Game Commission voted to adopt its preferred alternative proposal, also known as the Integrated Preferred Alternative (IPA), for the MLPA North Central Coast study region (Alder Creek to Pigeon Point).

The MLPA proposal for the South Coast study region (Pt. Conception to the CA/Mexico border, including offshore islands) was approved by the Fish & Game Commisison in Decemeber 2010, and went into effect Summer 2011.   The North Coast (Alder Creek north to the California border with Oregon) began its planning process, followed by the San Francisco Bay process (from the Golden Gate Bridge northeast to the Carquinez Bridge).

 

Blood star- Point Lobos- Steve Lonhart NOAA MBNMS (1)MPAs Approval for South Coast Region

On December 15, 2010, after hours of public comment and 2 years of meetings, the Fish and Game Commission voted to approve a system of Marine Protected Areas for the South Coast Region.  The final array of MPAs is a compromise solution that Coastkeeper is proud to have participated in reaching.

Learn more:

Additional Resources

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