The Marine Life Protection Act requires California to reevaluate all existing marine protected areas and potentially design new areas that function as parts of a statewide network.
A regional approach is being used to redesign protected areas along California’s 1,100-mile coast, with the state divided into five study regions.
The South Coast Study Region includes state waters between Point Conception in Santa Barbara County to the California border with Mexico in San Diego County, including all offshore islands. Federal waters (those past the three-nautical mile state water boundary line) are not subject to the act.
In each study region, an appointed regional stakeholder group develops proposals, which are reviewed and evaluated by a scientific advisory team, the California Department of Fish and Game, MLPA Initiative staff, the public and a policy-level blue ribbon task force.
The act proposals are then refined and presented to the task force, which makes a recommendation to the California Fish and Game Commission.
Marine Protected Areas
Marine protected areas are designed to protect or conserve marine life and habitat. There are three types: state marine reserve, state marine park and state marine conservation area.
State marine reserves have the highest restrictions on use: It is unlawful to injure, damage, take or possess any living, geological or cultural marine resource, except under a permit or specific authorization from the managing agency for research, restoration or monitoring purposes. While, to the extent feasible, the area shall be open to the public for managed enjoyment and study, the area shall be maintained to the extent practicable in an undisturbed and unpolluted state. Therefore, access and use, such as walking, swimming, boating and diving, may be restricted to protect marine resources.
State marine parks: It is unlawful to injure, damage, take or possess any marine resources for commercial exploitation purposes. Any human use that would compromise protection of the species of interest, natural community or habitat, or geological, cultural or recreational features, may be restricted by the designating entity or managing agency.
State marine conservation areas: It is unlawful to injure, damage, take or possess any specified living, geological or cultural marine resources for certain commercial, recreational or a combination of commercial and recreational purposes. In general, any commercial and/or recreational uses that would compromise protection of the species of interest, natural community, habitat or geological features may be restricted by the designating entity or managing agency.
Source: California Department of Fish and Game