The Law

The Marine Life Protection Act

In 1999, California passed the first law of its kind in the country-the Marine Life Protection Act, or MLPA. Sponsored by coastal legislators, the MLPA requires the state to improve the way it protects the ocean. The MLPA passed with bipartisan support, and was backed by scientists, divers, educators, fishermen, and conservation organizations.  Surveys show that Californians across the state want more protection for the oceans.

In 2005, the state took a new approach, combining science with public input. The Marine Life Protection Act Initiative includes:

• Regional stakeholder groups made up of local ocean users from a variety of industries, backgrounds, and interests
• Opportunities for the general public to review plans and comment at every step in the process
• A high-level Blue Ribbon Task Force of policy experts who provide recommendations to stakeholders and the state
• An advisory team of biologists, economists, and other scientific experts

A regional approach is being used to redesign MPAs along California's 1,100-mile coast. The state has been divided into five study regions:

Central Coast - Pigeon Point to Point Conception (Implemented September 2007)
North Central Coast - Point Arena to Pigeon Point (Implemented May 2010) 
South Coast - Point Conception to the Mexican border (Implementation January 2012)
North Coast - Oregon border to Point Arena (under consideration by Fish and Game Commission)
San Francisco Bay - Options Report Being Prepared

How we benefit

undefinedMarine protected areas provide economic, recreational, and environmental benefits to people, whether they live on the water?s edge or far inland. They can serve as savings banks for California's commercially and recreationally important species, by restoring fish populations inside the MPA which can then help replenish nearby waters. This spillover effect can benefit both fishermen and seafood consumers.

Around the world, marine reserves serve as some of the most popular scuba-diving destinations.  These protected ocean places also provide wonderful opportunities for activities like bird watching and kayaking. Healthy marine habitats help sustain local economies while ensuring that future generations can enjoy the same quality of life.