Today's guest blogger is Sarah Sikich, Heal the Bay's coastal resources director
Just in time for World Oceans Day, the Fish and Game Commission in a 3-0 vote, designated new marine protected areas (MPAs) along the North Coast (CA/OR border to Alder Creek near Point Arena in Mendocino County). This is a major milestone that completes the statewide network of underwater parks in California’s coastal waters.
These new MPAs were designated under the Marine Life Protection Act, a visionary law enacted in 1999 that called for a new approach to ocean management, and enlisted local fishermen, scientists, business and tribal leaders and conservationists to plan science-based protections for their part of the state. Heal the Bay played a major role in the creation of Southern California’s MPAs by sitting on a panel of stakeholders that designed our local set of underwater parks that went into effect on Jan. 1 of this year.
California’s network of underwater parks now includes 119 MPAs, five recreational management areas, and 15 special closures, representing about 16% of all open coast state waters. With only about half of these areas designated as no-take marine reserves, the vast majority of California’s coast is open to fishing. The new North Coast MPAs are expected to go into effect by early 2013.
As an investment to protect ocean health for future generations, MPAs safeguard key areas for marine life and their associated habitats. They will help ensure a vibrant coastal environment that delights visitors, supports local businesses, and makes local places, like Malibu Palos Verdes, and Catalina a great place to enjoy California’s coast and ocean.
With World Oceans Day just days away, Californians can be proud about the legacy we’re leaving for our kids and grandkids.
Volunteer for our MPA Watch program to help monitor these new underwater parks.