The California Fish and Game Commission will discuss alternative effective dates for implementation of the Southern California marine protected areas (MPAs) at its next meeting. The MPAs were previously expected to go into effect on Oct. 1, 2011, after the Commission chose that date at its June meeting. They will now discuss a new implementation date at the Sept. 15 meeting in Redding.
This decision comes after the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) informed the Commission that they will not approve the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) south coast MPAs regulatory package in time to make it effective Oct. 1, 2011 as anticipated. It is a complicated package and OAL informed the Commission that it has additional questions and requests for more information that will require a re-notice.
On Dec. 15, 2010 the Commission adopted regulations to create a suite of MPAs in the South Coast Study Region, which spans state waters from Point Conception in Santa Barbara County to the U.S./Mexico border. Developed under the MLPA Initiative planning process, this network of 36 MPAs will be added to the 13 existing MPAs and two special closures in the Northern Channel Islands, which were established in 2003. Combined, the 49 MPAs and two special closures cover approximately 354 square miles of state waters and represent approximately 15 percent of the region.