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About MLPA

This website draws examples from the California Marine Life Protection Act Initiative,  a ten-year long collaborative process that established a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) in California state waters, as required by the 1999 California Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). MPAs are ocean areas where uses such as commercial fishing or recreational diving are limited. Implemented sequentially through four regional processes, the Initiative ultimately designated 16% of state waters as protected areas. Appointed regional stakeholder groups (RSG) proposed MPAs with the guidance of a science advisory team (SAT).  Their proposals were forwarded to a policy-level blue ribbon task force (BRTF), which ultimately provided recommendations to the California Fish and Game Commission, the agency responsible for adoption and implementation of MPAs.

Funded by more than $35 million in public and philanthropic dollars, the effort involved an extensive staff team supplemented by contracted professional facilitators to design the process and run thousands of hours of meetings.  Due to California open meetings laws and the desire to ensure transparency of the process, most meetings were recorded by AGP Video, Inc. and archived on the CAL-SPAN Internet distribution network.  The recordings provide an unparalleled record of a complex, science-intensive and conflict-laden process, and the ways that the managers of the process worked to ensure its effectiveness and productivity.


MLPA Initiative Regional Designation Processes