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California's Marine Protected Areas in Full Swing

Have you ever heard the saying, “so goes California so goes the Nation”?   Well, ocean advocates across the nation are hoping these words ring true when it comes to protecting important ocean resources.

The State of California now officially owns a complete network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).  These MPAs encompass rich, coastal ecosystems from Oregon to Mexico—creating sanctuaries for marine life to thrive.  

The final set of MPAs went into effect in the north coast on December 19, 2012—completing a nearly 10-year process to establish MPAs along California’s populated coastline.  California is the first state in the nation to have established such a comprehensive system.  16% of the ocean is now protected in some fashion.   

These MPA have the potential to be magical places in the future, abundant with sea life.  But as a LA Times article pointed out, the process to establish MPAs was sometimes less than magical.  Surfrider was deeply engaged with MPA establishment.  Despite witnessing a rough, complex and emotionally ridden process, Surfrider believes the investment was well worth the work.  Why?  We built new friendships, honed our scientific understanding about the ocean, and most importantly, we knew the work we were doing was not for us—the work was for future generations of marine life, fishermen, ocean users and society as a whole.   As cliché as that might sound, it really was the case. 

Typically when Surfrider writes about ocean issues we are informing our members and supporters about threats to our oceans, beaches and waves.   Writing this blog today is a welcomed change.  Despite the pressing issues facing our ocean (climate change, industrial/residential pollution, overdevelopment, ocean acidification, species decline, marine debris etc…) we can all take solace in knowing that pockets of the Pacific now serve as “sources of richness” that will help build healthier ecosystems—something that our oceans so desperately needs now.

The Pacific is the world’s largest ocean—and now there are small areas that will hopefully produce big results.  Surfrider and ocean advocates from around the world are eager to watch these special places grow in maturity and productivity—and of course we are even more excited to recreate in them! 

To find out where you can dive, surf, swim and enjoy MPAs in California, go here