Marine Protected Areas

California has one of the largest Marine Protected Area (MPA) networks in the world, with 124 distinct marine managed areas covering a total of 852 square miles -- approximately 16% of coastal waters.

The formation of this network began in 1999, when California passed the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), requiring the CA Department Fish and Wildlife to re-evaluate, redesign, and potentially designate new MPAs. This would to create a stronger state-wide network of regions that effectively protected marine wildlife, habitats, and ecosystems. In 2007, a public-private partnership called the MLPA Initiative was created to develop and implement new regulations in each of five newly-created regions of the CA coastline.

COARE served on the Regional Stakeholder Group for the North Central Coast division, and developed the MPA regulations for that area, which were implemented in 2010. Through meetings with science advisory teams, commercial and recreational fisherman, the CA Fish and Wildlife Department, and stakeholders from the other four divisions, COARE successfully designed protections for diverse marine wildlife and its habitats.

COARE continues to offer advice and consulting services for regions considering expanding or adding marine protected areas to their coasts, and is proud to share the knowledge and experience from this process.

For more information on these landmark protections, including maps and regulations within MPAs, please visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.