MPA Research & Monitoring
MPA Outreach & Education
MPA Enforcement & Compliance
MPA Policy & Permitting
California's marine protected areas (MPAs) are managed as a statewide network through the MPA Management Program.
California’s MPAs are managed as a statewide network through the MPA Management Program*. This program consists of four focal areas and was designed to facilitate the adaptive management of California’s MPA network as an interconnected system of protected areas along the entire California coast.
The MPA Management Program and its components are guided by several foundational documents including the Master Plan for MPAs (Master Plan), the MPA Partnership Plan (PDF) (Partnership Plan), and the MPA Monitoring Action Plan (Action Plan). The Master Plan directs the design, implementation, and management of California’s MPA Network. The Partnership Plan provides guidance on a partnership based approach for managing the Network. The Action Plan informs next steps for long-term monitoring and will aid in the adaptive management and evaluation of the Network in meeting the goals of the MLPA.
The MPA Management Program is a collaboration between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Ocean Protection Council, the Fish and Game Commission, and the MPA Statewide Leadership Team. This novel partnership-based approach ensures California’s MPA network is adaptively managed and informed by engaged partnerships.
For more information, refer to the Master Plan for MPAs, the Ocean Protection Council's MPA Partnerships web page, or the MPA Action Plan.
* synonymous with the “Marine Life Protection Program” adopted by the California Fish and Game Commission
To improve the design and effectiveness of California’s MPAs, the Marine Life Protection Act requires the Fish and Game Commission to adopt a MPA Management Program with the following goals:
In addition to these six primarily ecosystem-based goals, the Marine Life Protection Act also states the Program shall include:
View the full text of the Marine Life Protection Act
California Legislative Information website
The Marine Life Protection Act goals, objectives, and design considerations serve as the cornerstone for the MPA Management Program’s adaptive management process. This process was designed to help the State learn and evaluate whether California’s MPA Network is making progress towards meeting the goals of the Marine Life Protection Act. The adaptive management process consists of three steps and provides a framework for implementing potential management actions:
The Marine Life Protection Act requires that the statewide network of MPAs be monitored to evaluate progress towards meeting its goals, and that the results of monitoring inform adaptive management decisions.
Outreach and education is key to informing people about the MPA network and ensuring compliance with the regulations. Outreach priorities include disseminating information related to:
MPA Outreach Products
The Department of Fish and Wildlife also provides guidance to many other organizations involved in MPA outreach and education across the state in order to ensure accurate and consistent messaging.
Enforcement and compliance of MPA regulations is fundamental to their success. As the primary agency responsible for enforcing MPA regulations, the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Law Enforcement Division monitors MPA sites and takes enforcement action as appropriate. In addition to CDFW enforcement, partner agencies such as California State Parks, National Park Service, US Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, municipal harbor patrols, local police, sheriffs, lifeguards, and city resource officers may also assist in enforcement. Improvements in technology and community support may also help increase compliance.
California Fish and Game Code
Californians Turn in Poachers and Polluters (CalTIP)
Consistent policy and permitting allow for an effective approach to MPA network governance. Coordination between the primary managing agencies and partners is essential to maintain a consistent vision for the California MPA Network. For instance, the Department of Fish and Wildlife uses scientific data and staff expertise to provide management recommendations to the Fish and Game Commission to aid in their rule-making decisions.
Furthermore, the Department of Fish and Wildlife reviews and issues Scientific Collecting Permits. As specified in California Fish and Game Code, §1002 and California Code of Regulations, Title 14, §650, a scientific collecting permit is required when take or possession of fish and wildlife occurs for research, educational, or propagation purposes. Take is defined in California Fish and Game Code, §86 as “hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill, or attempt to hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill.” Additionally, California Code of Regulations, Title 14, §650 states that take also includes “capturing, marking, and releasing any animal”.
As the lead managing agency for the California MPA Network the Department of Fish and Wildlife implements and enforces the regulations set by the Fish and Game Commission, and works across all four focal areas of the MPA Management Program.
The Fish and Game Commission is the primary decision-making authority for California’s MPA regulations and adopted the MPA Management Program and Master Plan for MPAs.
More information on the California Fish and Game Commission.
The Ocean Protection Council is the policy lead for California’s MPAs and implementation of Marine Life Protection Act activities.
More information on the Ocean Protection Council.
The MPA Statewide Leadership Team (convened by the Ocean Protection Council in 2014) helps guide program activities and ensures communication, collaboration, and coordination among entities that have significant authority, mandates, or interests that relate to California’s MPA Network.
More Information on the MPA Statewide Leadership Team.
Marine Region (Region 7)
Regional Manager: Dr. Craig Shuman
Main Office: 20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Suite 100, Monterey, CA 93940
AskMarine@wildlife.ca.gov | (831) 649-2870
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