Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) – BRTF Unanimously Adopts South Coast Region MPA Proposal (November 2009)
On November 12, 2009, the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) unanimously (5 – 0) adopted a preferred marine protected area (MPA) proposal for the south coast study region, which includes 27 state marine reserves (SMRs), 1 state marine park (SMP) and 16 state marine conservation areas (SMCAs); this recommended proposal is referred to as the MLPA South Coast Integrated Preferred Alternative Marine Protected Area Proposal, or South Coast IPA. The recommendations will be presented to the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) on December 9, 2009 in Los Angeles. CONCUR served as the lead facilitator for the 64-member south coast regional stakeholder group (SCRSG) that generated the initial proposals for MPAs.
The stakeholder group developed three alternative proposals (identified as Proposals 1, 2 and 3) that then served as the basis for the South Coast IPA adopted by the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force. The alternative proposals were created during the year-long efforts of the regional stakeholders, representing a broad range of interests and in-depth knowledge about local resources. CONCUR worked with stakeholders in joint fact-finding and negotiation to evaluate existing MPAs and develop alternative MPA proposals along the Southern California coast. The stakeholder group included representatives of commercial fishing, recreational angling, diving interests, ports and harbors, conservation organizations, and government agencies with MPA-related responsibilities. CONCUR conducted the stakeholder assessment, identifying the key interests and issues affecting the design of MPAs in the study region and interviewed approximately 100 key stakeholders in the study region to help form the SCRSG. Please visit the MLPA website for more detailed maps and specific information on the MPA proposals: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa.
The MLPA provides that California will redesign its system of MPAs, to the extent possible, as a network. 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 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. The MLPA South Coast Study Region encompasses approximately 2,354 square miles of state waters from Point Conception in Santa Barbara County to the California border with Mexico, including offshore islands. CONCUR has served as facilitator and convener of the RSGs in the Central Coast, North Central Coast and the South Coast (this just completed) study regions.
The Commission will initiate the environmental review process, with the entire regulatory process to adopt south coast MPAs taking about one year to complete. The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is tasked with the implementation of the MPA network and will work with its local partners to promote effective monitoring, management and enforcement of the new MPAs.