California’s ocean creatures enjoy a state-long series of refuges where they can thrive undisturbed. There are different levels of protection, from “no-take” zones to those that allow some forms of fishing.
Science proves that MPAs allow fish to thrive by protecting ecosystems, not just individual species.
MPAs leave the vast majority of the coast open for fishing.
When you see a pod of dolphins swimming
off the Santa Monica Pier, or take a whale watching trip out of the South Bay,
you witness the bounty of our local oceans first-hand. Our beaches are a huge
draw, and millions of people come to visit them every year. Southern
California’s culture and economy revolve around the ocean.
Sadly, overfishing, trash in our oceans,
some industry, overdevelopment, and other issues have contributed to a dramatic
decline in fish populations. In 1999, California made history when The Marine
Life Protection Act (MLPA) was signed, directing the state to reexamine and
redesign California’s system of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Bringing together scientists, fishermen,
conservationists, business owners, residents, and Fish & Game officials, it
created a long-term plan to restore and protect California’s most unique and
threatened marine environments.
WHAT ARE MPAs?
Just as parks on land protect special
lands and wildlife from overdevelopment, these underwater parks preserve
California’s stunning marine ecosystems for future generations to observe and
enjoy. The first of its kind in the
nation, these areas have been called “hope spots” because they are our best
hope in restoring the beauty and bounty of ocean life threatened by
overfishing, pollution and habitat destruction.
California now leads the nation and the
world in ocean protection, ensuring the preservation of ecosystems close to
home- from the waters off Malibu and the Santa Monica Pier to Palos Verdes and beyond.
Marine Protected Areas are divided
State Marine Parks, in which commercial fishing is
not allowed, but recreational fishing is
State Marine Conservation Areas, in which both commercial and
recreational fishing are allowed in limited amounts
Marine Reserves, in which no fishing or
collecting of any kind is allowed
YOU CAN HELP
California residents are embracing marine
reserves and joining local efforts to monitor them. They are making a
difference in ocean protection – and you can too! Help support Marine Protected
Areas by joining Heal the Bay's new MPA Watch
Program. This group of volunteers monitors the use of coastal and ocean MPAs,
providing a priceless look at how people are using these new conservation
areas. Learn more about MPA Watch.
We released our second annual data report in late 2013, which can be found here.
protected areas also provide a great environment for swimming, kayaking,
diving, snorkeling and tidepooling, so make sure to enjoy your marine
Visit the Department of Fish
and Game’s website for online maps of all the marine
protected area networks or visit the mobile
site to identify underwater parks
in your area.