Updating the Master Plan for Marine Protected Areas

statewide MPA network
California’s MPA network

Editor’s Note: Updated public comment period information and meeting dates for the 2015 Master Plan for Marine Protected Areas are available in the latest Master Plan process blog post.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) plans to update the 2008 Master Plan for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) this year. The updated 2015 Master Plan will be a guidance document that shifts the focus from designing and siting California’s MPA network to setting a statewide framework for MPA management. CDFW will welcome input on the updated 2015 Master Plan through a public process that starts at the Aug. 2015 meeting of the California Fish and Game Commission.

California is home to the largest scientifically designed network of MPAs in the United States. This accomplishment was the result of the State Legislature passing the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), which required CDFW to redesign California’s system of MPAs through a highly participatory and 2008_Master_Plan_coverstakeholder-driven MPA design and siting process that spanned eight years and four coastal regions.

The MLPA also required CDFW to develop a “master plan” to guide the adoption and implementation of MPAs. This master plan framework guided the incremental development of alternative MPA proposals in the first MLPA planning region on the central coast. In 2008, following the adoption of the central coast MPAs, the Master Plan for Marine Protected Areas was approved as a living document by the California Fish and Game Commission. The 2008 Master Plan then guided the development of alternative MPA proposals in the north central, south, and north coast regions.

CDFW anticipates taking a 4-step approach to update the Master Plan by the end of the year. This approach includes:

  1. Working with Tribal governments over the next couple of months
  2. Presenting a first draft to the Fish and Game Commission at their August 2015 meeting
  3. Providing an update at the October 2015 Commission meeting, and
  4. Presenting a final draft to the Commission for consideration of approval at their December 2015 meeting

    Bodega Head, Sonoma County, near Bodega Head State Marine Reserve and  and Bodega Head State Marine Conservation Area

For more information about the Master Plan for Marine Protected Areas and California’s network of MPAs, please visit the California Marine Protected Area website.

 post by CDFW Environmental Scientist Adam Frimodig ♦ CDFW map by Marine Region GIS Unit; photo by A. Frimodig