Today at the Management Review Forum held in Monterey, nearly 300 participants representing state agencies, California Tribes, researchers, environmental groups, commercial and recreational fisheries, and others joined together to discuss the first 10 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 (PDF)(opens in new tab) report is the first comprehensive statewide review of California’s MPA Network and Management Program.
Panelists at the forum engaged with participants in lively 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). “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. “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 10 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.”
The discussions at the forum today will inform the next steps, which will be considered at the March 16 Marine Resources Committee meeting (PDF)(opens in new tab) of the Commission, where members of the public may provide comments and reflections on the review and recommendations. In April 2023, the Commission will begin considering which adaptive management recommendations from the review and the public will be prioritized for the next 10 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 video of today’s forum or to learn more about California’s MPA Management Program please visit CDFW’s MPA Decadal Review web page.