Designing a network of marine protected areas in California: Achievements, costs, lessons learned, and challenges ahead
The State of California recently planned and is implementing a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) in state waters as mandated by the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). A public-private partnership (the MLPA Initiative) completed four regional public MPA planning processes characterized by robust stakeholder contributions and the incorporation of best readily available science. Prior to enactment of the MLPA in 1999, less than 3% of California state waters were in MPAs, and most of those MPAs were small and lacked clear objectives. By 2013, approximately 16% of state waters will be in 124 MPAs that represent and replicate most marine and estuarine habitats and are designed to be ecologically-connected. The redesigned statewide network of MPAs improves marine ecosystem protection in California, advanced the science and practice of designing MPA networks, and increased the awareness and capacity of stakeholders, scientists and decision-makers for marine spatial planning. The public planning effort took almost seven years and significant financial investment (approximately $19.5 million in private charitable foundation funds and $18.5 million in public funds). Not all stakeholders were pleased with the outcomes and the planning processes faced many challenges. While the design of the MPA network aimed to meet science and feasibility guidelines, final decisions on MPAs in each region reflected tradeoffs needed to garner public acceptance and support for implementation. The MLPA Initiative offers some key lessons about implementing policy through a public planning process. While California is developing mechanisms for assessing effectiveness of the MPA network in coming years, including establishing a MPA Monitoring Enterprise and a process for periodic review and adaptive management of MPAs, significant challenges remain for effective implementation. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
Ocean and Coastal Management
Gleason, Mary; Fox, Evan; Ashcraft, Susan; Vasques, Jason; Whiteman, Elizabeth; Serpa, Paulo; Saarman, Emily; Caldwell, Meg; and Frimodig, Adam, "Designing a network of marine protected areas in California: Achievements, costs, lessons learned, and challenges ahead" (2013). McGeorge School of Law Scholarly Articles. 390.