Marine Protected Areas
by Aleta George on July 01, 2008
Seaflow would like to see vessel no-traffic zones and ocean noise pollution regulations included in the redesign of the state’s marine protected areas (MPAs), a process that is nearing completion for the North Central Coast region. While noise reduction is not currently part of the plan, California is on track to have the world’s first statewide network of marine protected areas that prohibit or significantly restrict fishing and harvesting in designated state-controlled waters.
In late April, after months of discussions among various stakeholders, the Marine Life Protection Act Blue Ribbon Task Force appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger recommended the designation of 18 marine protected areas in the North Central Coast area between Santa Cruz and Mendocino County. The MPAs will range from total no-take zones to limited recreational-take zones.
The North Central Coast area is the second of five regions to be addressed under the Marine Life Protection Act, passed by the state legislature in 1999. In late 2007, the California Fish and Game Commission approved the designation of 29 MPAs along the Central Coast, from Santa Barbara to San Mateo. “By setting aside our Yosemites of the sea, we’re giving the ecosystem and habitat a chance to heal,” says Samantha Murray of the Ocean Conservancy. “It looks like we’ll eventually have about 20 percent of California’s coastline protected.”
For information about the MPA process, go to www.oceanconservancy.org/press_california_mpa. Information on upcoming meetings and opportunities for public comment can be found at the state Fish and Game website at www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/.