Tribal Representatives, Researchers, And Stakeholders Join State to Discuss the First Ten Years of California’s Marine Protected Area Network

The Management Review Forum announced on March 15 that almost 300 participants representing state agencies, California Tribes, researchers, environmental groups, commercial and recreational fisheries, and others joined to discuss the first ten years of California’s globally recognized Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network. Presented to the California Fish and Game Commission in February, the MPA Decadal Management Review report is the first comprehensive statewide review of California’s MPA Network and Management Program.


Panelists at the forum spoke with participants in discussions across the four pillars of the MPA Management Program, which include research and monitoring, enforcement and compliance, outreach and education, and policy and permitting.


“The discussions today highlight how important the MPA network and ocean resources are to California tribes and residents,” said Charlton H. Bonham, Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), in a press release. “It is encouraging to see our program working and how far we’ve come.”


“Our California coast is world-renowned for its beauty, biodiversity, and recreational opportunities. It’s also important to our economy,” said California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot in the press release. “Our MPAs help conserve these incredible resources, so I’m excited we’re reflecting on how these protected areas have worked during their first decade in operation and how we can adapt and improve this network moving forward.”


“California’s MPAs were designed through a valuable public-private partnership that included our stakeholders, state and federal natural resource management agencies, tribes, and tribal communities, and the public,” said California Fish and Game Commission President Eric Sklar. “In the ten years since, the network ultimately adopted by the Commission has been stewarded by CDFW, its partners, and diverse communities empowered through local collaboratives to contribute to protecting our ocean. I look forward to engaging with our stakeholders tomorrow to hear more about their experiences with, and reflections on, the network.”


During the forum, discussions were held to inform of the following steps, which were considered at the Commission’s March 16 Marine Resources Committee meeting, where public members provided comments and reflections on the review and recommendations. Then, in April 2023, the Commission will begin considering which adaptive management recommendations from the review and the public will be prioritized for the next ten years of the adaptive management review cycle.


In 1999, the State Legislature passed the historic Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) to protect California’s marine biodiversity, habitats, and ecosystems. The MLPA required the establishment of a statewide, science-based network of MPAs. From 2004-2012, planning took place through a science-based, policy-guided, stakeholder-driven process, resulting in 124 MPAs. Today, the MPA Network encompasses 852 square miles (16 percent) of state waters, making California home to one of the largest ecologically connected networks in the world.


To access the forum video or learn more about California’s MPA Management Program, please visit CDFW’s MPA Decadal Review web page.


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