California’s Marine Protected Areas

The first attempt that California made at protecting sensitive regions along its coast came in the implementation of six MPAs between 1909 and 1913. None of these first MPAs made it past 1950. In the years since, 50 other MPAs were created along the California coast. Unfortunately, these were random and ineffective in their implementation. Without a regard for measurable conservation goals, this protected 1% of shallow coastal waters failed at protecting habitat and species loss.

In 1999, the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) was created, as part of the California Fish and Game Code, to re-evaluate this MPA system and establish a more effective statewide network. This was the first law in the United States to require a comprehensive, science-based network of Marine Protected Areas. It was the job of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force to work with stakeholder groups and scientific advisers to draft policy under the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative that creates a more effective solution for the state of California.

The MLPA Initiative plan would be to create the statewide MPA network in the following ways:

  1. The Central Coast step was successfully completed in September, 2007
  2. The North Central Coast step was completed in 2010
  3. The South Coast and fourth North Coast steps are expected to go into effect in 2012

For more information, please visit the following links:


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