Fish and Game Commission adopts MPA regulation changes

SAN DIEGO — The state’s Fish and Game Commission unanimously approved regulations to clarify and correct errors or inconsistencies in how California governs Marine Protected Areas (MPA) on Dec. 9 at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center in San Diego.

The approved changes would update individual MPAs, simplify the names of 21 marine managed areas (MMA), clarify definitions of fish takes, and refine boundary definitions.

All of the boundary refinements would make it easier to identify with greater accuracy where an MPA exists.

One of the boundary refinements would impact an MPA off the coast of Laguna Beach. A shared boundary between Laguna Beach’s State Marine Reserve and no-take State Marine Conservation Area was adjusted to address municipality concerns. 

Coordinates for 76 MMAs and eight special closures, for example, will now have three digits to the right of the decimal point (as opposed to two) to improve clarity and help state officials better enforce regulations.

Language governing fish takes were altered to restrict takings of inanimate but natural objects, such as shells.

The Fish and Game Commission heard a proposed presentation of proposed MPA changes in April; a discussion hearing was held in October.

MPAs were established under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) and created a network of regulated areas off the California coast to from overfishing or environmental hazards.

“The overriding goal of these acts is to protect, conserve and help sustain California’s valuable marine resources, including maintain natural biodiversity through adaptive management,” commission staff stated in a report.

The commission’s action also:
clarified aquaculture use at the Morro Bay State Marine Recreational Management Area,
removed the allowance of aquaculture within Drakes Estero State Marine Conservation Area,
updated obsolete commercial troll gear references;
changed the classfication of Año Nuevo State Marine Conservation Area to State Marine Reserve,
replaced Goleta Slough State Marine Conservation Area’s coordinate boundary with the mean high tide line, and
deleted unnecessary text concerning mean high tide line for three offshore MMAs.

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