California’s MLPAs: Free Online Access to Special Issue of Ocean and Coastal Management

Special issue available free online for approximately six months here.

From CA Dept of Fish and Wildlife press release:
New Analyses Can Guide Similar Planning Endeavor
California recently completed an historic overhaul of how it manages its coastal waters by revising and expanding its system of marine protected areas (MPAs). This system of MPAs is the largest scientifically based network in the U.S. and second largest in the world. How California accomplished this consequential achievement is the subject of a March special issue of the journal Ocean and Coastal Management released last month. Articles analyze the challenges, achievements and lessons learned in the public MPA planning processes.
Under a mandate from the state’s 1999 Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), California’s network of MPAs designated by the California Fish and Game Commission have greatly increased the proportion of state waters protected. The resulting network designates approximately 9.4 percent of state waters as “no-take” MPAs, and about 16 percent of state waters are now under some form of protection, which is a dramatic increase in coverage. Informed by science and crafted with significant stakeholder involvement, California’s new network of 124 designated areas (including 119 MPAs and five recreational management areas, all managed within the network) replaced 63 existing MPAs that were mostly small (covering just 2.7 percent of state waters, with less than ¼ percent in no-take MPAs) and considered ineffective. The area covered by the MPAs represents approximately 60 percent of all no-take MPAs within the waters of the 48 contiguous U.S. states. Planning for this network of MPAs yields important lessons for other planning efforts globally.
The special issue of Ocean and Coastal Management includes nine articles by key participants from the MLPA Initiative, an innovative public-private partnership between the California Natural Resources Agency, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation. The Initiative was tasked with helping the state redesign its MPAs in conjunction with stakeholders, scientists, experts, resource managers, policy-makers and the public. The articles have now been made available for free download at the journal website.
“This special issue provides an important record of the MLPA Initiative’s work and how California conducted public processes to design an improved system of MPAs and therefore provides important lessons that can inform other similar efforts,” said Mary Gleason, senior scientist at The Nature Conservancy.
“The network of MPAs was designed by stakeholders with guidance from scientists, managing agencies, experts, members of the public and policy-makers, to meet the six goals of the MLPA, while also allowing for human uses of marine resources – understandably a complicated task that involved tradeoffs and compromises but with the vision that the MPA network will provide long-term benefits to California and our marine environment,” said Ken Wiseman, executive director of the MLPA Initiative.
Informed by scientific guidance intended to increase benefits and ecological connections among individual MPAs, this improved network is also globally significant.
“Completing the nation’s first statewide open coast system of marine protected areas strengthens California’s ongoing commitment to conserve marine life for future generations,” said Charlton H. Bonham, director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife. “This statewide system will also benefit fish and fishermen in California for generations to come. And, the science shows that by protecting sensitive ocean and coastal habitats, marine life flourishes and in turn, creates a healthier system overall.
The California Fish and Game Commission, the decision-making authority under the MLPA, acted on the basis of recommendations delivered by the MLPA Initiative, which conducted four regional public planning processes between 2005 and 2011. California’s MLPA calls for redesigning the state’s existing MPAs to meet specific goals to increase coherence and effectiveness in protecting the state’s marine life, habitats, ecosystems and natural heritage as well as to improve recreational, educational and study opportunities provided by marine ecosystems subject to minimal human disturbance.

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