California’s Fish and Game Commission updates 2018 Master Plan for Fisheries

SACRAMENTO — The 2018 Master Plan for Fisheries: A Guide for Implementation of the Marine Life Management Act was formally adopted on June 20, thanks to the California Fish and Game Commission’s unanimous vote.

Revising the Marine Life Management Act (MLMA) with this master plan allows California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to update how the state manages its marine ecosystem. The master plan specifically calls for the use of best available science, requires certain stock sustainability and ecosystem objectives to be met and would integrate Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) into fisheries management.

The updated master plan would also allow for the engagement of stakeholders, partner collaborations, advancement of socioeconomic and community objectives, and continued planning for climate change adaptation.

DFW staff and other state officials would specifically address a few major efforts and objectives in hopes of sustaining fisheries and maintaining California’s diverse ecosystem.

Certain marine life species, for example, would be prioritized for management action. The risks fishing imposes upon certain stocks and the ecosystem would also be assessed.

New tools would be made available to DFW staff and state officials to identify and manage the sustainability of certain fish stocks.

MPAs and climate change adaptation would also be a priority under the 2018 Master Plan and MLMA implementation guidance.

“Integration of the MPA network into fisheries management is expected to provide significant benefits to fisheries and resources alike,” the adopted master plan document stated.

“The effects of climate change can pose challenges to fisheries management and underscore the need for adaptive and responsive management that can adjust to changing species distribution and abundance, habitat alteration, and impacts to port infrastructure,” the 2018 Master Plan document continued.

“Targeted research, consideration of multiple indicators, and collaborations with stakeholders can help make management better able to adapt to these shifts,” the entry on climate change added. “Climate change considerations factor into species prioritization, scaled management, identification of appropriate management strategies, adaptive management structures, and understanding the effects of management on fishery economics and communities.”

Implementation the MLMA’s goals ultimately focuses conservation of marine ecosystem health, the effects of various activities on habitats and bycatch species, and managing fisheries.

“The MLMA also emphasizes the importance of conserving the health of marine ecosystems … and specifically, the need to consider impacts to habitat and bycatch species when prioritizing and managing fisheries,” the 2018 Master Plan document stated. “The Master Plan provides a step-wise approach to considering and addressing these issues.”

The Marine Life Management Act, according to the 2018 Master Plan, “is California’s primary fisheries management law” and “direct the California Department of Fish and Wildlife … to develop a Master Plan to guide its implementation.”

Commissioners approved the master plan document during their June meetings in Sacramento.

Photo Credit: NOAA West Coast Fisheries

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