Chapter 10.5. Marine Life Protection Act of California Fish And Game Code >> Division 3. >> Chapter 10.5.

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the Marine Life Protection Act.
Notwithstanding any other law and consistent with the authority granted under Section 2860, commencing on July 1, 2013, the Ocean Protection Council shall assume responsibility for the direction of policy of marine protected areas (MPAs).
The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
  (a) California's marine protected areas (MPAs) were established on a piecemeal basis rather than according to a coherent plan and sound scientific guidelines. Many of these MPAs lack clearly defined purposes, effective management measures and enforcement. As a result, the array of MPAs creates the illusion of protection while falling far short of its potential to protect and conserve living marine life and habitat.
  (b) California's extraordinary marine biological diversity is a vital asset to the state and nation. The diversity of species and ecosystems found in the state's ocean waters is important to public health and well-being, ecological health, and ocean-dependent industry.
  (c) Coastal development, water pollution, and other human activities threaten the health of marine habitat and the biological diversity found in California's ocean waters. New technologies and demands have encouraged the expansion of fishing and other activities to formerly inaccessible marine areas that once recharged nearby fisheries. As a result, ecosystems throughout the state's ocean waters are being altered, often at a rapid rate.
  (d) Fish and other sea life are a sustainable resource, and fishing is an important community asset. MPAs and sound fishery management are complementary components of a comprehensive effort to sustain marine habitats and fisheries.
  (e) Understanding of the impacts of human activities and the processes required to sustain the abundance and diversity of marine life is limited. The designation of certain areas as sea life reserves can help expand our knowledge by providing baseline information and improving our understanding of ecosystems where minimal disturbance occurs.
  (f) Marine life reserves are an essential element of an MPA system because they protect habitat and ecosystems, conserve biological diversity, provide a sanctuary for fish and other sea life, enhance recreational and educational opportunities, provide a reference point against which scientists can measure changes elsewhere in the marine environment, and may help rebuild depleted fisheries.
  (g) Despite the demonstrated value of marine life reserves, only 14 of the 220,000 square miles of combined state and federal ocean water off California, or six-thousandths of 1 percent, are set aside as genuine no take areas.
  (h) For all of the above reasons, it is necessary to modify the existing collection of MPAs to ensure that they are designed and managed according to clear, conservation-based goals and guidelines that take full advantage of the multiple benefits that can be derived from the establishment of marine life reserves.
The following definitions govern the construction of this chapter:
  (a) "Adaptive management," with regard to marine protected areas, means a management policy that seeks to improve management of biological resources, particularly in areas of scientific uncertainty, by viewing program actions as tools for learning. Actions shall be designed so that, even if they fail, they will provide useful information for future actions, and monitoring and evaluation shall be emphasized so that the interaction of different elements within marine systems may be better understood.
  (b) "Biogeographical regions" refers to the following oceanic or near shore areas, seaward from the mean high tide line or the mouth of coastal rivers, with distinctive biological characteristics, unless the master plan team establishes an alternative set of boundaries:
  (1) The area extending south from Point Conception.
  (2) The area between Point Conception and Point Arena.
  (3) The area extending north from Point Arena.
  (c) "Marine protected area" (MPA) means a named, discrete geographic marine or estuarine area seaward of the mean high tide line or the mouth of a coastal river, including any area of intertidal or subtidal terrain, together with its overlying water and associated flora and fauna that has been designated by law, administrative action, or voter initiative to protect or conserve marine life and habitat. An MPA includes marine life reserves and other areas that allow for specified commercial and recreational activities, including fishing for certain species but not others, fishing with certain practices but not others, and kelp harvesting, provided that these activities are consistent with the objectives of the area and the goals and guidelines of this chapter. MPAs are primarily intended to protect or conserve marine life and habitat, and are therefore a subset of marine managed areas (MMAs), which are broader groups of named, discrete geographic areas along the coast that protect, conserve, or otherwise manage a variety of resources and uses, including living marine resources, cultural and historical resources, and recreational opportunities.
  (d) "Marine life reserve," for the purposes of this chapter, means a marine protected area in which all extractive activities, including the taking of marine species, and, at the discretion of the commission and within the authority of the commission, other activities that upset the natural ecological functions of the area, are prohibited. While, to the extent feasible, the area shall be open to the public for managed enjoyment and study, the area shall be maintained to the extent practicable in an undisturbed and unpolluted state.
(a) The Legislature finds and declares that there is a need to reexamine and redesign California's MPA system to increase its coherence and its effectiveness at protecting the state's marine life, habitat, and ecosystems.
  (b) To improve the design and management of that system, the commission, pursuant to Section 2859, shall adopt a Marine Life Protection Program, which shall have all of the following goals:
  (1) To protect the natural diversity and abundance of marine life, and the structure, function, and integrity of marine ecosystems.
  (2) To help sustain, conserve, and protect marine life populations, including those of economic value, and rebuild those that are depleted.
  (3) To improve recreational, educational, and study opportunities provided by marine ecosystems that are subject to minimal human disturbance, and to manage these uses in a manner consistent with protecting biodiversity.
  (4) To protect marine natural heritage, including protection of representative and unique marine life habitats in California waters for their intrinsic value.
  (5) To ensure that California's MPAs have clearly defined objectives, effective management measures, and adequate enforcement, and are based on sound scientific guidelines.
  (6) To ensure that the state's MPAs are designed and managed, to the extent possible, as a network.
  (c) The program may include areas with various levels of protection, and shall include all of the following elements:
  (1) An improved marine life reserve component consistent with the guidelines in subdivision (c) of Section 2857.
  (2) Specific identified objectives, and management and enforcement measures, for all MPAs in the system.
  (3) Provisions for monitoring, research, and evaluation at selected sites to facilitate adaptive management of MPAs and ensure that the system meets the goals stated in this chapter.
  (4) Provisions for educating the public about MPAs, and for administering and enforcing MPAs in a manner that encourages public participation.
  (5) A process for the establishment, modification, or abolishment of existing MPAs or new MPAs established pursuant to this program, that involves interested parties, consistent with paragraph (7) of subdivision (b) of Section 7050, and that facilitates the designation of MPAs consistent with the master plan adopted pursuant to Section 2855.
The workgroup shall, after appropriate consultation with members of the public, determine future actions for implementing the recommendations of its final report.
(a) The commission shall adopt a master plan that guides the adoption and implementation of the Marine Life Protection Program adopted pursuant to Section 2853 and decisions regarding the siting of new MPAs and major modifications of existing MPAs. The plan shall be based on the best readily available science.
  (b) (1) The department shall prepare, or by contract shall cause to be prepared, a master plan in accordance with this subdivision. In order to take full advantage of scientific expertise on MPAs, the department shall convene a master plan team to advise and assist in the preparation of the master plan, or hire a contractor with relevant expertise to assist in convening such a team.
  (2) The team members convened pursuant to this subdivision shall have expertise in marine life protection and shall be knowledgeable about the use of protected areas as a marine ecosystem management tool. The members shall also be familiar with underwater ecosystems found in California waters, with the biology and habitat requirements of major species groups in the state's marine waters, and with water quality and related issues.
  (3) The team shall be composed of the following individuals:
  (A) Staff from the department, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the State Water Resources Control Board, to be designated by each of those departments.
  (B) Five to seven members who shall be scientists, one of whom may have expertise in the economics and culture of California coastal communities.
  (C) One member, appointed from a list prepared by Sea Grant marine advisers, who shall have direct expertise with ocean habitat and sea life in California marine waters.
  (4) The master plan shall be prepared with the advice, assistance, and involvement of participants in the various fisheries and their representatives, marine conservationists, marine scientists, and other interested persons. In preparing the master plan, the department shall confer, to the extent feasible, with the commission, the Pacific Fishery Management Council, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the United States Navy, the United States Geological Survey's national biological survey, staff from national marine sanctuaries off California, Sea Grant researchers, marine advisers, and national parks personnel.
  (5) The department may engage other experts to contribute to the master plan, including scientists, geographic information system (GIS) experts, and commercial and recreational fishermen, divers, and other individuals knowledgeable about the state's underwater ecosystems, the history of fishing effort or MPA management, or other relevant subjects.
  (c) The department and team, in carrying out this chapter, shall take into account relevant information from local communities, and shall solicit comments and advice for the master plan from interested parties on issues including, but not necessarily limited to, each of the following:
  (1) Practical information on the marine environment and the relevant history of fishing and other resources use, areas where fishing is currently prohibited, and water pollution in the state's coastal waters.
  (2) Socioeconomic and environmental impacts of various alternatives.
  (3) Design of monitoring and evaluation activities.
  (4) Methods to encourage public participation in the stewardship of the state's MPAs.
(a) (1) The department and team shall use the best readily available scientific information in preparing the master plan adopted pursuant to Section 2855, and shall organize the location-specific contents, where feasible, by biogeographical region. In preparing the plan, the department and team shall use and build upon the findings of the Sea Grant survey of protected areas in California waters, which is entitled "California's Marine Protected Areas," the report of the State Interagency Marine Managed Areas Workgroup, the Department of Parks and Recreation's planning information and documents regarding existing and potential underwater parks and reserves, maps and other information from the department's marine nearshore ecosystem mapping project, and other relevant planning and scientific materials.
  (2) The master plan shall include all of the following components:
  (A) Recommendations for the extent and types of habitat that should be represented in the MPA system and in marine life reserves. Habitat types described on maps shall include, to the extent possible using existing information, rocky reefs, intertidal zones, sandy or soft ocean bottoms, underwater pinnacles, sea mounts, kelp forests, submarine canyons, and seagrass beds.
  (B) An identification of select species or groups of species likely to benefit from MPAs, and the extent of their marine habitat, with special attention to marine breeding and spawning grounds, and available information on oceanographic features, such as current patterns, upwelling zones, and other factors that significantly affect the distribution of those fish or shellfish and their larvae.
  (C) Recommendations to augment or modify the guidelines in subdivision (c) of Section 2857, if necessary to ensure that the guidelines reflect the most up-to-date science, including, for example, recommendations regarding the minimum size of individual marine life reserves needed to accomplish the various goals set forth in Section 2853.
  (D) Recommended alternative networks of MPAs, including marine life reserves in each biogeographical region that are capable of achieving the goals in Section 2853 and designed according to the guidelines in subdivision (c) of Section 2857.
  (E) A simplified classification system, which shall be consistent with the goals of Section 2853 and the guidelines in subdivision (c) of Section 2857, and which may include protections for specific habitats or species, if no system that meets these specifications has already been developed.
  (F) Recommendations for a preferred siting alternative for a network of MPAs that is consistent with the goals in Section 2853 and the guidelines in subdivision (c) of Section 2857.
  (G) An analysis of the state's current MPAs, based on the preferred siting alternative, and recommendations as to whether any specific MPAs should be consolidated, expanded, abolished, reclassified, or managed differently so that, taken as a group, the MPAs best achieve the goals of Section 2853 and conform to the guidelines in subdivision (c) of Section 2857.
  (H) Recommendations for monitoring, research, and evaluation in selected areas of the preferred alternative, including existing and long-established MPAs, to assist in adaptive management of the MPA network, taking into account existing and planned research and evaluation efforts.
  (I) Recommendations for management and enforcement measures for the preferred alternative that apply systemwide or to specific types of sites and that would achieve the goals of this chapter.
  (J) Recommendations for improving the effectiveness of enforcement practices, including, to the extent practicable, the increased use of advanced technology surveillance systems.
  (K) Recommendations for funding sources to ensure all MPA management activities are carried out and the Marine Life Protection Program is implemented.
  (b) The team shall, as necessary, identify and define additional appropriate components of the master plan as soon as possible after enactment of this section.
(a) On or before July 1, 2001, the department shall convene, in each biogeographical region and to the extent practicable near major working harbors, siting workshops, composed of interested parties, to review the alternatives for MPA networks and to provide advice on a preferred siting alternative. The department and team shall develop a preferred siting alternative that incorporates information and views provided by people who live in the area and other interested parties, including economic information, to the extent possible while maintaining consistency with the goals of Section 2853 and guidelines in subdivision (c) of this section.
  (b) The preferred alternative may include MPAs that will achieve either or both of the following objectives:
  (1) Protection of habitat by prohibiting potentially damaging fishing practices or other activities that upset the natural ecological functions of the area.
  (2) Enhancement of a particular species or group of species, by prohibiting or restricting fishing for that species or group within the MPA boundary.
  (c) The preferred siting alternative shall include MPA networks with an improved marine life reserve component, and shall be designed according to each of the following guidelines:
  (1) Each MPA shall have identified goals and objectives. Individual MPAs may serve varied primary purposes while collectively achieving the overall goals and guidelines of this chapter.
  (2) Marine life reserves in each bioregion shall encompass a representative variety of marine habitat types and communities, across a range of depths and environmental conditions.
  (3) Similar types of marine habitats and communities shall be replicated, to the extent possible, in more than one marine life reserve in each biogeographical region.
  (4) Marine life reserves shall be designed, to the extent practicable, to ensure that activities that upset the natural ecological functions of the area are avoided.
  (5) The MPA network and individual MPAs shall be of adequate size, number, type of protection, and location to ensure that each MPA meets its objectives and that the network as a whole meets the goals and guidelines of this chapter.
  (d) The department and team, in developing the preferred siting alternative, shall take into account the existence and location of commercial kelp beds.
  (e) The department and team may provide recommendations for phasing in the new MPAs in the preferred siting alternative.
The department shall establish a process for external peer review of the scientific basis for the master plan prepared pursuant to Section 2855. The peer review process may be based, to the extent practicable, on the peer review process described in Section 7062.
(a) On or before January 1, 2005, the department shall submit to the commission a draft of the master plan prepared pursuant to this chapter.
  (b) On or before April 1, 2005, after public review, not less than three public meetings, and appropriate modifications of the draft plan, the department shall submit a proposed final master plan to the commission. On or before December 1, 2005, the commission shall adopt a final master plan and a Marine Life Protection Program with regulations based on the plan and shall implement the program, to the extent funds are available. The commission's adoption of the plan and a program based on the plan shall not trigger an additional review under the California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code).
  (c) The commission shall hold at least two public hearings on the master plan and the Marine Life Protection Program prior to adopting the plan and program. The commission may adopt the plan and the program immediately following the second public hearing or at any duly noticed subsequent meeting.
  (d) Upon the commission's adoption of the program, the commission shall submit the master plan and program description, including marine life reserve and other MPA designations, to the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture for review and comment. Upon receipt of the plan, the joint committee shall have 60 days to review the plan and to submit written recommendations to the commission regarding the plan and program. The joint committee shall only submit a recommendation to the commission if a majority of the members agree to that recommendation. The commission shall consider all recommendations submitted by the joint committee, and may amend the program to incorporate the recommendations. If the commission does not incorporate any recommendations submitted by the joint committee, the commission shall set forth, in writing, its reasons for not incorporating that recommendation.
(a) The commission may regulate commercial and recreational fishing and any other taking of marine species in MPAs.
  (b) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, the taking of a marine species in a marine life reserve is prohibited for any purpose, including recreational and commercial fishing, except that the commission may authorize the taking of a marine species for scientific purposes, consistent with the purposes of this chapter, under a scientific collecting permit issued by the department.
(a) The commission shall, annually until the master plan is adopted and thereafter at least every three years, receive, consider, and promptly act upon petitions from any interested party, to add, delete, or modify MPAs, favoring those petitions that are compatible with the goals and guidelines of this chapter.
  (b) Nothing in this chapter restricts any existing authority of the department or the commission to make changes to improve the management or design of existing MPAs or designate new MPAs prior to the completion of the master plan. The commission may abbreviate the master plan process to account for equivalent activities that have taken place before enactment of this chapter, providing that those activities are consistent with this chapter.
The department, in evaluating proposed projects with potential adverse impacts on marine life and habitat in MPAs, shall highlight those impacts in its analysis and comments related to the project and shall recommend measures to avoid or fully mitigate any impacts that are inconsistent with the goals and guidelines of this chapter or the objectives of the MPA.
The department shall confer as necessary with the United States Navy regarding issues related to its activities.