New developments are underway in the statewide campaign to create Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) along our coast, including opportunities for public feedback. The majority of the Bay Area’s coastline is under consideration as part of a region dubbed the North Central Coast, which stretches from Pigeon Point in San Mateo County to Alder Point in Mendocino County. The resulting protected areas will have limited recreational and commercial fishing or will be designated as no-take state reserves.
Meetings and negotiations on the MPAs in the Bay Area are already underway. On June 11, 2008, members of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force met with the Department of Fish and Game and introduced their “Integrated Preferred Alternative,” which was finalized on April 23.
Cal Oceans, a coalition of environmental organizations working to protect California marine habitats, is tracking the MPA process closely. Their spokesperson Julie Dixon says that the plan currently under consideration includes “significant concessions to fishing interests,” but that several areas are receiving “strong protection.” Bay Area MPAs in the current plan include the Point Reyes Headlands and the Farallon Islands.
Efforts to protect marine habitats in California are a response to damage to ocean ecosystems over much larger areas. If implemented well, the protected areas can foster the healthy reproduction and growth of endangered and threatened species and, it is hoped, serve as reservoirs of diversity for large areas of the ocean.
To lend your voice to this discussion, write a letter to the editor of your local or regional newspaper endorsing the MPAs with no further cuts to the areas protected. You can also send a letter of support directly to the Department of Fish and Game At 1416 9th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, or use the emailform at www.caloceans.org/send.
The MPA process for the North Central Coast region will likely conclude in late 2008 or early 2009. To find out about public meetings and receive other updates, sign up for alerts from Cal Oceans at www.caloceans.org/signup/.