Only seven years old, California’s network of MPAs is already one of our state’s greatest environmental success stories. California Department of Fish and Game Commissioners were happy to receive this information during their meeting on December 12 when department staff presented the annual report on management activities of its statewide MPA Program. Representatives from stakeholder groups that have been involved with the establishment and management of the MPA network attended and provided comments to show their support.
Northern California Campaign Coordinator Delia Bense-Kang spoke on behalf of the Surfrider Foundation and referenced the new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Ocean and Coastal Management.The study, by Fish & Game Commissioner Samantha Murray of Scripps and Tyler Hee of environmental law firm DeLano and DeLano, finds California’s network of MPAs is already showing signs of success in the form of more and larger fish. Nicole Palma, Program Manager for the MPA Collaborative Network, talked about the educational and outreach materials collaboratives have created, such as the Sonoma Tribal Traditions video which was selected for Wild and Scenic Film Festival, and the new Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) program. Cory Pukini, California Conservation Manager for Wildcoast touched on their “MPA Watch” program, which trains the general public to help with enforcement and compliance.
In response to the report and comments of stakeholder groups, Vice President Jacque Hostler-Carmesin stated, “This is a good example of building trust. I think trust has been built in numerous areas over the last 10 years and it’s much more positive than negative.” Commissioner Murray echoed that statement adding, “It’s incredible to get a comprehensive snapshot of what’s been done over the last decade and the sense of partnerships that have developed, cultivated and thrived.”
Moving forward, Surfrider will continue to advocate for adequate enforcement funding from the state and will also continue to stay engaged in an effort to provide further recognition and protection at a global scale. Surfrider Foundation’s California Policy Manager Jennifer Savage is part of an expert assessment group to evaluate California’s marine protected area network for inclusion on the International Union for Conservation of Nature IUCN Green List. The Green List serves as a global standard highlighting well-managed protected areas contributing to “sustainable development through the conservation of nature and provision of associated social, economic, cultural and spiritual values.