MLMA Master Plan 13. Periodic Review and Amendment Process

As outlined in Chapter 9, adaptive management to achieve sustainability is a central objective of the MLMA. To meet this and the other objectives of the MLMA over time, it is essential that the Master Plan be periodically evaluated and updated as needed. Regular review will provide an opportunity for amendments that address unplanned needs, incorporate new tools, and respond to changes in circumstances and stakeholder interests. Additionally, allowing for minor revisions to the guidance and background information that the Master Plan provides will help to keep it a living and dynamic document in the interim.

This chapter addresses the following:

  • Initiation: How any changes to the Master Plan can be initiated.
  • Ongoing revisions: Minor changes that can be made to the Master Plan by the Department at any time and the process for making them.
  • Evaluation: The process, criteria, and timeline for evaluating Master Plan implementation.
  • Amendment: Comprehensive updates to the Master Plan and the process and timeline for development.
Spiny lobster surrounded by brittle stars. (CDFW/MARE photo)


Changes to the Master Plan can be initiated by the Department and may be in response to requests by members of the public. Requests by the public must be made in writing to the Commission and clearly state the reasons why the Master Plan should be changed. The Commission will determine whether a change recommended by the Department or request by the public is appropriate and may direct the Department to begin an amendment or revision process.

Ongoing Revisions

The Master Plan includes background information that can be a resource for ESRs, rulemaking packages, and FMPs. Much of this material reflects current understanding and knowledge that continue to evolve over time, such as in the case of data-limited stock assessments. The Master Plan is structured to provide guidance that promotes consistency with Commission policy while allowing for an evolution in understanding effective means of implementation. The Department will need to update the Master Plan as new information becomes available for it to remain relevant and useful. At the same time however, the Master Plan is a Commission document and it is necessary to ensure that it continues to reflect Commission guidance over time. To that end, all proposed revisions shall be cited, summarized, justified, and placed on the Commission’s consent file before they are integrated into the Master Plan.

More significant changes should be addressed through the comprehensive amendment process (see the Amendments section below). A significant change for this purpose is defined as any of the following:

  • Re-prioritization of fisheries.
  • An addition or deletion to the process for meaningful public involvement.
  • Change to the MLMA-based management framework.

Any changes other than the three listed above may be considered minor and addressed through the ongoing revision process.

Periodic evaluation

The Department should evaluate implementation of the Master Plan at least every five years. In evaluating effectiveness, the Department should assess the extent to which the framework and approaches described in the Master Plan have been implemented, including the following:

The MLMA-based assessment framework described in Appendix F can also serve as a tool for assessing progress in individual fisheries. The Department should use this tool for all priority fisheries at the outset of Master Plan implementation, both to inform FMP development efforts, and as a means of tracking progress over time.

The Department will report the results of the evaluation to the Commission. The Commission may choose to initiate Master Plan revisions, amendments. or other action as necessary to address any needs identified through the evaluation.


Depending on the outcome of periodic evaluations, the Department may recommend amendments to the Master Plan. Amendments may also be initiated by the public. At the outset of the amendment process, the Department should again evaluate implementation based on the criteria provided above. The Department and Commission will also invite suggestions for the amendment by holding meetings, workshops, or formal hearings, by using advisory bodies, or by taking written comment. After reviewing public suggestions and comments, the Department will initiate drafting of the amendment.

The Department is encouraged to partner with stakeholders and outside experts in the development of information, tools, and analyses that will inform the amendment process. The Department will then submit the amendment to the Commission for review and adoption. The amendment will be available in written form at appropriate Department offices, and on the Department’s web site at least 45 days prior to Commission adoption. The Commission must hold at least one public meeting before adoption.

Photo at top of page: Recreational fishing along the California coast. (Theavenuephotography/Shutterstock photo)