Wednesday, February 29, 2012

California's new 2012 MPA, Simplified

Over the years, our government has recognize the need to protect our natural resources, even the hard to see ones hidden under a blue blanket of water. We, as divers, have the opportunity to see firsthand the treasure that hides from the eyes of most people. We can be right there next to the beauties and wonders that are document in magazines and shows. California’s state government implemented the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) to complement the federal laws to help better serve the idiosyncrasy of the area. Various Marine Protected Areas (MPA) were created with different restrictions were created to help protect the natural heritage of the areas and its ecosystems. Over times, the rules are adjusted to help better serve and protect the target areas. The start of 2012 saw a variety of changes that came about after various public discussions and panels. Some of the changes to protected areas do come into conflict with various non-profit groups whose goals are to restore threaten and damaged areas. One such group that was directly affected was the Bay Keeper organizations.

The MPA are broken down into five basic types.
State Marine Reserve (SMR): No take.
State Marine Park (SMP): Allow limited recreational take. No commercial take.
State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA): Limited recreational and/or commercial take.
State Marine Recreational Management Area (SMRMA): Allows recreational hunting but with protection.
Special Closure: Provides for localized protection.

These restrictions affect both recreational and commercial purposes. They govern most actions in the area such as anchoring, how to travel through, access to the area, introducing new species, and feeding of fish and wildlife. If you are diving California and plan to do a little hunting or fishing, you should check to find out whether the area is protected or not. Below is a link to all the maps separated by counties as well as an interactive map you can use to learn about areas you are diving.

You can find more links to help you learn about MPAs in the tab "RESOURCES."

Written by: Wayne Lu, Feb 29, 2012


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