CONCUR is the lead facilitator for the California Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative’s Regional Stakeholder Group (RSG) in its Southern California Study Region. The MLPA provides that California will establish a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) by 2011. The MLPA pays particular attention to protecting representative examples of important habitats and ensuring that there are comparable areas included in MPAs for monitoring and habitat management.
For purposes of planning and designation of MPAs, the California coast has been organized into five different study regions. CONCUR has been the facilitator and convenor of the RSG in the Central Coast, North Central Coast and now currently, the South Coast study region.
The MLPA Initiative is a unique public-private partnership that was designed to have the key stakeholders (rather than technicians) develop the recommendations for MPA placement based on their judgment, knowledge of the resource, and particular expertise. The RSG members are a diverse community from each region and include representatives from the fishing community (recreational and commercial), local harbor masters, divers, environmental community, local governments, and science and educational institutions.
For the South Coast Study Region, CONCUR conducted stakeholder assessment of the key interests and issues affecting the design of MPAs in the study region and interviewed approximately 100 key stakeholders in the study region. Currently, we are facilitating the negotiation and collaboration work sessions of the RSG members to develop their MPA designs. We also convene the larger plenary meetings and use our technical expertise to help frame the scientific underpinnings of MPA network design and evaluation.
The RSG members are expected to complete their recommendations for MPA design in October 2009 and forward these on to a Blue Ribbon Task Force for further consideration. Based on the recommendations of the Task Force, the Fish and Game Commission will initiate the environmental review process and identification of a preferred alternative at its meeting in December 2009.