California Department of Fish and Wildlife

MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force Transmits South Coast
Recommendations to the California Fish and Game Commission

 

Purpose of the Memorandum

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The purpose of this memorandum is to summarize the work and outcomes of the California Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) deliberations on marine protected areas (MPAs) for the MLPA South Coast Study Region. The memo provides background information and rationale to support the recommendation that the California Fish and Game Commission adopt the MLPA South Coast Integrated Preferred Alternative MPA Proposal (IPA) as its preferred alternative for the MLPA South Coast Study Region. This memorandum provides the commission with context for presentations and discussions scheduled for the joint meeting on December 9, 2009.

 

Overview

Consistent with the BRTF’s guidance on July 29, 2009, the MLPA South Coast Regional Stakeholder Group (SCRSG) successfully completed all elements of its charge, including generating three MPA proposals for the MLPA South Coast Study Region. The SCRSG MPA proposals represent the culmination of months of intensive design, evaluation, facilitated negotiation among and across interest groups, and proposal refinement.

The MLPA South Coast Study Region presented some unique challenges for MPA planning, most notably 1) balancing the needs and interests of consumptive and non-consumptive representatives, 2) avoiding conflicts with military use areas, 3) avoiding areas of water quality concern, 4) addressing the limited availability of certain key habitats, and 5) incorporating new approaches for modeling connectivity between the mainland and island areas. As per guidance from the commission on December 11, 2008, the thirteen existing state MPAs that lie withn the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary were retained and included in all MPA proposals. However, there were many other existing state MPAs along the mainland coast and at Catalina Island that were evaluated and for which recommendations are made for either modifications or removal from the system.

The three final revised SCRSG MPA proposals (P1R, P2R and P3R) resulted from three iterative rounds of MPA proposal design, where the SCRSG considered BRTF guidance, the MLPA Master Plan Science Advisory Team (SAT) evaluations, MLPA Initiative staff evaluations, California Department of Fish and Game feasibility analyses, California Department of Parks and Recreation evaluations, and extensive public comment. While the three SCRSG work groups were given guidance to meet science and feasibility guidelines and to strive for cross-interest support, in the final round of proposal development each of the SCRSG work groups was also given specific guidance for how to focus efforts. As a result, the three SCRSG MPA proposals vary based on that unique guidance.

The three final SCRSG MPA proposals were forwarded to the BRTF for review and consideration at a meeting that took place on October 20-22, 2009 and November 10, 2009. The BRTF deliberated and took the following three actions during that meeting:

  1. Recognizing that all three final SCRSG MPA proposals generally had some cross-interest support, met the science guidelines outlined in the California Marine Life Protection Act Master Plan for Marine Protected Areas where possible, and to a large extent minimized socioeconomic impacts, the BRTF unanimously voted to forward to the commission for its review and consideration all three final SCRSG MPA proposals with revisions submitted by the three SCRSG work groups after Round 3 was completed (referred to as P1R, P2R and P3R), as well as the no-action alternative (Proposal 0, existing MPAs.
  2. The BRTF then adopted the MLPA South Coast Integrated Preferred Alternative MPA Proposal (IPA) by integrating MPA elements from all three SCRSG proposals. The single, preferred alternative is intended to balance multiple considerations and bridge some of the remaining areas of divergence among the SCRSG proposals. While the IPA does not meet all the science guidelines, the BRTF carefully determined where the few exceptions to science guidelines should be made in an effort to garner further cross-interest support and reduce potential socioeconomic impacts. The BRTF unanimously approved forwarding the IPA to the commission as the preferred alternative for the MLPA South Coast Study Region.
  3. The BRTF also identified for the commission additional recommendations to include with the transmittal of the IPA and SCRSG MPA proposals.

 

Developing the MLPA South Coast Integrated Preferred Alternative MPA Proposal

The BRTF unanimously adopted the IPA which is largely based on MPAs from the SCRSG proposals and bridges some of the important areas of divergence among the revised SCRSG proposals 1, 2 and 3 by providing a balance between meeting science guidelines and minimizing potential socioeconomic impacts. While each of the final SCRSG MPA proposals has strengths and reflects intensive effort, none of the SCRSG proposals achieved the level of cross-interest support and balance of considerations to be adopted as the preferred alternative by the BRTF. The BRTF carefully considered where to make explicit choices based on extensive study and deliberation; many hours of input from the public; and helpful discussions with members of the SAT and SCRSG on the underlying science and specific local economics at key geographies.

The process of integrating the SCRSG MPA proposals to generate the IPA was facilitated by both the structure and organization of the SCRSG and the hard work and commitment of the SCRSG members and many members of the public. The high degree of geographic convergence among proposals seen in prior study regions was not as pronounced and this required the BRTF to carefully weigh alternatives at several key geographies (most notably Naples Reef, Point Dume, Palos Verdes, the Orange County area, the San Diego area, and Catalina Island).

The SCRSG is to be commended for generating a diverse set of Round 1 MPA proposals in March 2009 (six internal arrays, complemented by three draft external proposals), which were then refined in May 2009 based on science guidance, close review of the Ecotrust analysis of potential socioeconomic impacts, and California Department of Fish and Game and California State Parks guidance (resulting in four draft proposals, as well as two external proposals in Round 2). Finally, consistent with guidance given by the BRTF, and in recognition of the need to forward a bounded set of options to the commission, the SCRSG succeeded in producing three final MPA proposals in September 2009 (Round 3) for BRTF consideration and deliberation.

The BRTF gave considerable guidance to the SCRSG in arriving at this milestone. The BRTF asked the SCRSG to give substantial weight to the science guidelines; to build proposals around a backbone of high level of protection MPAs of at least minimum (and where possible, preferred) size; to strive for broad cross-interest involvement and support in drafting and reviewing proposals; to minimize, where possible, significant potential socioeconomic impacts; to seriously consider the California Department of Fish and Game’s feasibility criteria and California State Parks evaluations; and finally to give careful consideration to the broad range of public and stakeholder comments submitted verbally and in writing.

At the final round of proposal development, the BRTF gave additional specific guidance to each of the three work groups:

  • SCRSG Work Group 1 direction: Continue to achieve a high level of cross-interest support and improve achievement of SAT guidelines [resulting in Proposal 1R]
  • SCRSG Work Group 2 direction: Continue to seek efficiency of MPA design and improve achievement of SAT guidelines [resulting in Proposal 2R]
  • SCRSG Work Group 3 direction: Continue to address SAT guidelines and strive to achieve preferred SAT guidelines [resulting in Proposal 3R]

The SCRSG worked very hard to take all this advice into account as the work groups crafted Round 3 MPA proposals. While there is some geographic overlap among the final SCRSG MPA proposals, all three have significant differences in their designs and balance among the many guidelines. The south coast study region presented many challenges to MPA planning, and meeting science and feasibility guidelines, while also minimizing potential socioeconomic impacts, was a difficult task.

The IPA draws, in most cases, directly from the SCRSG proposals, makes a set of explicit choices at key geographies, and is designed to meet the goals of the MLPA and balance the interests of the resource users. The IPA includes a carefully crafted regional network of MPAs that represents a series of compromises and choices that took into account science, broad cross-interest support, and potential socioeconomic impacts. The IPA includes a total of 50 marine protected areas and pending military closures: 28 state marine reserves (SMR), 19 state marine conservation areas (SMCA), 1 state marine park (SMP), and 2 pending military closure areas at San Clemente Island that must go through a federal regulatory process to be adopted. The IPA is comparable to the SCRSG proposals based on the total number of MPAs included in the proposal and the total area that is captured in proposed MPAs (Table 1).

Table 1. Comparison of MLPA South Coast Study Region Existing MPAs (P0), Round 3 Revised South Coast Regional Stakeholder Group (SCRSG) MPA Proposals (P1R, P2R and P3R), and the MLPA South Coast Integrated Preferred Alternative MPA Propsal (IPA)

Table 1

1Note: These are proposed MPA designations, NOT levels of protection assigned by the MLPA Master Plan Science Advisory Team
2Note: The military closures do not allow fishing and would be formally designated through federal action

While most of the 42 existing state MPAs are proposed for inclusion in the IPA with some modifications to improve design, the BRTF recommends that several existing MPAs be removed from the system (including Refugio SMCA, Big Sycamore Canyon SMR, Point Fermin SMP, Doheny SMCA, Doheny Beach SMCA, Buena Vista Lagoon SMP, Agua Hedionda Lagoon SMR and San Dieguito Lagoon SMP).

The BRTF directed MLPA Initiative staff to work with the SCRSG members to harmonize the MPA goals and objectives in their proposals with the actual regulations that have been moved forward in these proposals; staff completed that work.

Additional BRTF recommendations for the IPA include:

  • First, to encourage a formal naming process, by which both the State Park and Recreation Commission and the California Fish and Game Commission explore the use of Native American names that have been put forward for many of the MPAs that are included in the recommendation; it is beyond the mission of the BRTF to engage in that naming process.
  • Secondly, to make it clear that it is not the BRTF's intent to limit boating in any of the MPAs. The BRTF also intends to include the lawful operation of municipal facilities within these MPAs.
  • Finally, the BRTF recommends that memoranda of understanding (MOUs) be used among the various local, state and federal agencies and tribes, including the California Department of Fish and Game and California State Parks and local jurisdictions (some of whom already have existing MPA education and management capacity), to increase opportunities for effective enforcement and management of MPAs. These types of arrangements have been shown to work well in the Channel Islands and there is good will and experience in this region to promote better management.

More details about the specific MPAs in the MLPA South Coast Integrated Preferred Alternative MPA Proposal are attached as an appendix.

We hope you find this information helpful.

Appendix A: Brief Description of Marine Protected Areas in the MLPA South Coast Integrated Preferred Alternative MPA Proposal Adobe Reader required

 

Binder 1: MPA Design Guidance, MPA Proposals and MPA Evaluations

MPA Design Guidance

  1. Summary of Key Guidelines for Creating Marine Protected Area Proposals and MPA Proposal Evaluation Approaches (Revised June 24, 2009)
  2. November 10, 2008 MLPA Initiative staff memo regarding overview and application of MarineMap as a decision-support tool
  3. December 15, 2008 MLPA Initiative staff memo regarding introductory guidelines for the use of MarineMap in marine protected area planning
  4. December 29, 2008 MLPA Initiative staff memo regarding marine protected area proposals submitted external to the MLPA South Coast Regional Stakeholder Group Process
  5. December 30, 2008 MLPA I-Team memo regarding revised draft regional goals and objectives and design and implementation considerations for the MLPA South Coast Study Region for discussion and potential adoption at the January 13-14, 2009 SCRSG meeting
  6. Guidance to Work Groups for Developing Marine Protected Area Proposals in the MLPA South Coast Study Region (January 14, 2009)
  7. February 5, 2009 MLPA Initiative staff memo regarding process guidance in preparation for the February 10, 2009 work session
  8. April 23, 2009 MLPA Initiative staff memo regarding use of levels of protection in the MLPA Initiative
  9. April 23, 2009 MLPA Initiative staff memo regarding use of substrate data in the MLPA Initiative
  10. May 8, 2009 MLPA Initiative staff memo regarding use of kelp data in the MLPA Initiative
  11. July 31, 2009 MLPA Facilitation Team memo regarding process guidelines for developing final (Round 3) marine protected areas (MPA) proposals
  12. October 16, 2009 MLPA Initiative staff memo regarding participation in the October 20-22, 2009 meeting of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force
  13. November 4, 2009 MLPA Initiative staff memo regarding participation in the meeting of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force as it reconvenes on November 10, 2009

South Coast Goals and Objectives

  1. Adopted Regional Goals and Objectives and Design and Implementation Considerations for the MLPA South Coast Study Region (adopted by the MLPA South Coast Regional Stakeholder Group on January 14, 2009 and approved by the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force on February 26, 2009)

Marine Protected Area Proposals

  1. Side-by-side comparison by subregion of MPA proposals (maps and regulations) for proposals 1, 2, 3, IPA and 0 (existing MPAs)
    • Subregion 1: Government Point to Rincon Point
    • Subregion 2: Rincon Point to Point Dume
    • Subregion 3: Point Dume to Newport Beach
    • Subregion 4: Newport Beach to Agua Hedionda
    • Subregion 5: Agua Hedionda to California/Mexico Border
    • Subregion 6: Northern Channel Islands
    • Subregion 7: Southern Channel Islands
  2. South Coast Integrated Preferred Alternative (IPA) MPA Proposal
  3. Revised SCRSG MPA Proposal 1
  4. Revised SCRSG MPA Proposal 2
  5. Revised SCRSG MPA Proposal 3
  6. Proposal 0 (Existing MPAs)

Binder 2: Best Readily Available Science and Information and Marine Protected Area Evaluation Methods

Science Guidance

Science Questions

  1. Science Questions Under Consideration by the Master Plan Science Advisory Team for the MLPA South Coast Study Region (revised October 1, 2009)
  2. Responses to science questions posed in the MLPA South Coast Project (November 2008, January 2009 and August 2009)

Binder 3: MLPA Initiative Organization, Policy Context, and Process Records

Policy Context

  1. November 12, 2008 MLPA Initiative staff memo regarding MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force request for summary of policy guidance in the central coast and north central coast study regions
  2. December 4, 2008 MLPA I-Team memo regarding military use areas in the MLPA South Coast Study Region
  3. December 9, 2008 MLPA Initiative staff memo regarding staff recommendations for considering marine protected area proposals submitted external to the MLPA South Coast Regional Stakeholder Group
  4. December 30, 2008 MLPA I-Team memo regarding action of the California Fish and Game Commission regarding marine protected areas at the northern Channel Islands and Santa Barbara Island in the MLPA South Coast Study Region
  5. January 7, 2009 California Department of Fish and Game memo regarding law enforcement division’s guidance on catch and release fishing in MPAs
  6. February 10, 2009 California Department of Fish and Game memo regarding California Department of Fish and Game guidance on bag limits and size limits in MPAs
  7. Summary of Interim Guidance to the South Coast Regional Stakeholder Group with Regard to Military Use Areas and Pending Military Closures (March 2, 2009)
  8. April 1, 2009 J. Michael Harty memo regarding pending military closures at San Clemente Island and San Nicolas Island (with table of contents for supporting materials)
  9. April 8, 2009 David Nawi memo regarding legal analysis of state authority regarding marine protected areas in military use areas
  10. April 24, 2009 BRTF memo regarding summary of key guidance for developing round 2 draft MPA proposals
  11. May 17, 2009 MLPA Initiative Staff memo with staff recommendations for military use areas in the MLPA South Coast Study Region
  12. Actions of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force Taken on May 19, 2009 with Regard to Military Use Areas and Pending Military Closures (revised May 19, 2009)
  13. June 2, 2009 California Department of Fish and Game memo regarding policy guidance for consideration of fisheries management in Implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA)
  14. June 2, 2009 MLPA Initiative staff memo regarding round 2 draft marine protected area proposals for evaluation
  15. October 1, 2009 MLPA I-Team memo regarding informal advice from the California Office of the Attorney General regarding marine protected areas and the Marine Managed Areas Improvement Act
  16. October 19, 2009 MLPA I-Team memo regarding staff recommendations for applying the advice from the California Office of the Attorney General about marine protected areas and the Marine Managed Areas Improvement Act

Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF)

  1. Member roster and charter
  2. Meeting agendas (in reverse chronological order)

Master Plan Science Advisory Team (SAT)

  1. Member roster and charter
  2. Meeting agendas and summaries (in reverse chronological order)

Statewide Interests Group (SIG)

  1. Member roster and charter
  2. Meeting agendas and summaries (in reverse chronological order)

Public Outreach and Education

  1. Summary of Public Outreach and Education Efforts in the MLPA South Coast Study Region (December 3, 2009)
  2. Strategy for Stakeholder and Interested Public Participation in the MLPA South Coast Project (adopted November 4, 2008)
  3. MLPA news releases from the MLPA Initiative, California Natural Resources Agency and California Department of Fish and Game (in reverse chronological order)
    • Recommendations for Improving Southern California's Marine Protected Areas Moves Forward (November 12, 2009)
    • Chair Don Benninghoven Issues Statement on Progress in Implementing the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (May 14, 2009)
    • California's MLPA Initiative Continues Public Process to Complete Recommendations for Marine Protected Areas (January 29, 2009)
    • MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force Chair and California Department of Fish and Game Director Announce South Coast Regional Stakeholder Group (September 30, 2008)
    • Southern California MLPA Science Advisory Team Announcement (September 8, 2008)
    • Secretary for Resources Mike Chrisman Announces Marine Life Protection Act Initiative’s South Coast Study Region Blue Ribbon Task Force (August 7, 2008)
    • Public Workshops Scheduled to Begin MLPA Initiative South Coast Project (June 17, 2008)
  4. South Coast News (issues 1-9 and special edition)
  5. California Marine Life Protection Act Initiative: An Overview (July 2009)
  6. South coast summer public open houses flyer and Summary of Key Themes from Public Comments Received at Open Houses for the South Coast Project through July 20, 2009 (July 29, 2009)
  7. Get Involved! brochure
  8. Frequently Asked Questions about Marine Protected Areas (revised June 20, 2008)
  9. Common Misconceptions about the Marine Life Protection Act (revised June 20, 2008)
  10. Frequently Asked Questions for the Marine Life Protection Act South Coast Tribal Forum (Revised March 2, 2009)
  11. South Coast Tribal Forum Final Summary Report (updated April 26, 2009)
  12. October 8, 2009 Chair Reheis-Boyd memo regarding public comment at the October 20-22 BRTF meeting