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June 14, 2012

Last of California MPAs Finalized

California’s total is now 119 Marine Protected Areas

 

California Fish and Game Commission approved and adopted regulations for the north coast Marine Protected Areas, completing the network of MPAs in California’s open coastal waters, from Mexico to the Oregon state line, and further complicating recreational angling regulations for the remainder of the state.

"Rather than focusing on far more serious issues such as coastal pollutions, urban runoff and habitat degradation, the environmentalists behind the questionable MLPA implementation process seem to think that recreational fishermen are the root of the problems off our coast," said one California angler who is unhappy with the network of fishing closures. "Environmentalists fail to recognize that recreational fishermen were among the first conservationists in California."

The north coast region covers approximately 1,027 square miles of waters from the California/Oregon state line south to Alder Creek near Point Arena in Mendocino County. The roster of newly-regulated coastal waters includes 13 new or modified State Marine Conservation Areas (SMCAs) that allow limited recreational and commercial take; six new "No Take" State Marine Reserves (SMRs) that prohibit recreational and commercial take; 1 new State Marine Recreational Management Area (SMRMA) that allows limited recreational take; and 7 new Special Closures. Under restriction is approximately 137 square miles of state waters or about 13 percent of the region. 

The north coast regulations include a provision for federally recognized tribal members to continue harvesting and gathering fish, kelp and shellfish as they have for countless generations. The provision will allow non-commercial take to continue, consistent with existing regulations, in MPAs other than State Marine Reserves, where there is a record of ancestral take by a specific tribe.

The open coast portion of the statewide network of MPAs now includes 119 MPAs, five recreational management areas and 15 special closures covering approximately 16 percent of all open coast state waters. Approximately half of California’s new or modified MPAs are multiple use areas, with the remaining in no-take areas.

The north coast MPAs are expected to go into effect by early 2013.