Frequently Asked Questions about Ocean Protection
What's the best approach to preserving California's marine ecosystems?
The use of solid, peer reviewed science to consider ALL impacts and develop an equitable plan for bettering our oceans - such as is required by legislative mandate - is the best option. This way, we can protect California's diverse marine species, improve water quality, particularly in southern California, and promote better public health at the same time.
What type of activity hurts our oceans and what can we do about it?
Everything from pollution to coastal development has a negative impact. As part of a balanced approach to create healthy marine ecosystems, we must consider all environmental impacts on our oceans. That is the only way the ocean can truly be protected. Unfortunately, past efforts have neglected to take into account the full range of environmental impacts, and instead have singled out one thing or another - usually the thing of least benefit and least resistance - in adopting new, narrow regulations.
What type of impact does fishing have on the ocean?
Fishing activities in California are already heavily regulated by state and federal agencies. If new regulations are truly needed, agencies should employ best available science to evaluate all impacts, not just fishing, then focus on creating new environmental benefits, not unfair penalties against certain individuals and businesses, especially if the rules are redundant.
Without a balanced, long-term ocean protection plan, could there be negative ecological impacts?
Yes. California's ocean will remain unprotected from significant degradation, while increasingly our seafood will come from countries with little or no environmental and food safety measures. And that's not good for consumers or our troubled economy. Buying California-produced goods ensures that the seafood meets the highest environmental standards and supports family-owned businesses.
What ocean issues are Californian's most concerned about?
In a national public opinion survey to gage public knowledge of and interest in ocean issues, survey responses classed oil spills and chemical runoff as very serious problems; fishing was far down the list. In fact, a 2007 poll for the Alliance of Communities for Sustainable Fisheries showed that two-thirds of Californians support small, independent fishermen and recreational fishing activities. They don't think fishing is the primary threat to our oceans. Instead they support allowing fishing throughout the state - backed up with science-based limits to ensure sustainable harvest.
What is the Marine Life Protection Act?
The Marine Life Protection Act was enacted in 1999 by the California Legislature. It directs the Fish & Game Commission to re-examine and improve the state's system of marine protected areas so it performs, to the degree possible, as a statewide network. The purpose of the new network is to protect the diversity of marine ecosystems and unique habitats and to help sustain and protect populations of marine species.
Why hasn't the Marine Life Protection Act been fully executed until now?
The Department of Fish & Game attempted twice to implement the Act. However, due to the complexity of the analysis required and limited resources available, the Department was unable make substantive progress and both previous efforts were postponed.
What's the South Coast Study Region?
The Southern California area being evaluated by the Blue Ribbon Task Force stretches from the California-Mexican border to Point Conception in Santa Barbara County and includes the offshore Channel Islands.
What other areas of the California Coast have seen the Act implemented?
The initiative to implement the Act began with the south central coast study area (Point Conception to Pigeon Point). Regulations for that region were approved in 2007. A preferred alternative Marine Protection Area plan for the North Central Coast Study Area (Point Arena to Half Moon Bay) was identified by the Blue Ribbon Task Force in spring 2008 and the Fish and Game Commission will adopt regulations early in 2009, following public comment.
How closely do coalition members work with regulatory agencies?
A number of members work with regulatory agencies on a regular basis to conduct resource assessments, monitor ecosystems and collect important data. For example, the California Wetfish Producers Association has contracted with a senior marine scientist to work in cooperation with state and federal agencies to design and train CWPA member fishermen in a collaborative data collection and ecosystem monitoring program. And the California Sea Urchin Commission is also implementing a comprehensive data collection protocol carried out by divers.