California's coast and ocean are among our most treasured resources. The productivity, wildness, and beauty found here is central to California's identity, heritage, and economy. The State has taken a proactive approach in the management and conservation of California’s coastal and marine resources for long-term sustainability by passing a number of ecosystem protection laws, programs, and plans since the 1990s.
Marine Life Protection Act: California's MPA Founding Legislation
The Marine Life Management Act (MLMA, 1998), initiated a shift in marine resource management philosophy from single species management to an ecosystem-based approach. The State recognized that the Marine Life Management Act alone would not accomplish broad ecosystem protection, and soon thereafter passed the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA, 1999) to complement the Marine Life Management Act and use marine protected areas (MPAs) as an ecosystem-based resource management tool. The Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 directed the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to redesign California’s pre-existing system of MPAs to increase its coherence and effectiveness in protecting the State’s marine life, habitats, and ecosystems.
The State soon also passed the Marine Managed Areas Improvement Act (MMAIA, 2000) to simplify its classification system for marine managed areas (MMAs) – of which MPAs are a subset. In addition, the California Ocean Resources Stewardship Act (CORSA, 2000) and California Ocean Protection Act (COPA, 2004) were passed to create a framework for guiding a partnership-based approach to manage California’s coastal and marine resources.
MPA Planning Process (the "MLPA Initiative")
The MLPA directed the State to redesign its pre-existing system of MPAs to function as a network in order to increase its coherence and effectiveness at protecting marine life, habitats, and ecosystems. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife served as the lead agency to implement new and revised MPAs which were designed to function as a more ecologically connected statewide network.
From 2004 to 2012, the MLPA Initiative (a public-private partnership between CDFW, the California Natural Resources Agency, and Resources Legacy Fund) led four regional science guided and stakeholder driven MPA design and siting processes.
design guidelines and documentation for each regional planning process are
accessible through links below.