California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Introduction to the MLPA

What is the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA)?
What was the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPA Initiative)?
What are marine protected areas?
Did the MLPA affect California all at once?
When were the five planning regions implemented?
What were the basic steps in the MLPA Initiative planning process?
How was the public involved in the planning process?
Where can I review products and documents for each of the study regions?

 

What is the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA)? 

The MLPA was passed in 1999 and is part of the California Fish and Game Code. The MLPA requires California to reevaluate all existing marine protected areas (MPAs) and potentially design new MPAs that together function as a statewide network.The MLPA has clear guidance associated with the development of this MPA network. MPAs are developed on a regional basis with MLPA and MPA specific goals in mind, and are evaluated over time to assess their effectiveness for meeting these goals.

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What was the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPA Initiative)? 

The MLPA Initiative was a public-private partnership established to help the State of California implement the MLPA. 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.

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What are marine protected areas? 

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are separate geographic marine or estuarine areas designed to protect or conserve marine life and habitat. There are three types of MPAs designated (or recognized) in California: state marine reserve (SMR), state marine park (SMP) and state marine conservation area (SMCA).

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Did the MLPA affect California all at once? 

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 (Pigeon Point to Point Conception)
  • North Central Coast (Alder Creek near Point Arena to Pigeon Point)
  • South Coast (Point Conception to the California/Mexico border)
  • North Coast (California/Oregon border to Alder Creek near Point Arena)
  • San Francisco Bay (waters within San Francisco Bay, from the Golden Gate Bridge northeast to Carquinez Bridge)

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When were the five planning regions implemented? 

  • September 2007: Regulations implemented off central California (Pigeon Point in San Mateo County to Point Conception in Santa Barbara County)
  • May 2010: Regulations implemented off north-central California (Alder Creek near Point Arena in Mendocino County to Pigeon Point in San Mateo County, including the Farallon Islands)
  • January 2012: Regulations implemented off Southern California (Point Conception to the California/Mexico border)
  • December 2012: Regulations implemented off northern California (California/Oregon border to Alder Creek near Point Arena
  • The San Francisco Bay Study Region (waters within San Francisco Bay, from the Golden Gate Bridge northeast to the Carquinez Bridge) is the fifth and final study region that will be considered under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA)

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What were the basic steps in the MLPA Initiative planning process? 

In each study region, an appointed regional stakeholder group (RSG) developed MPA proposals that were reviewed and evaluated by a science advisory team (SAT), the California Department of Fish and Game, MLPA Initiative staff, and a policy-level blue ribbon task force (BRTF). Based on these evaluations and public input, MPA proposals were then refined by the RSG and presented to the BRTF, who made a recommendation to the California Fish and Game Commission, who had the sole authority to adopt and implement MPAs.

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How was the public involved in the planning process? 

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, by providing input on public documents and MPA proposals as they were developed.

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Where can I review products and documents for each of the study regions? 

A searchable document archive can be accessed through this site. It contains all regional planning documents and presentations.

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