What it is
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) can be valuable tools for conserving the nation’s natural and cultural marine resources when implemented as part of an ecosystem approach to management. Within the United States are many types of MPAs including some that conserve natural heritage, cultural heritage or are managed to sustain resource production. There are also hundreds of federal, state, territorial and tribal MPA authorities overseeing these MPAs. Each MPA site is typically managed by its own authority and therefore has its own unique requirements, terminology and levels of protection. There is not, at present, a nationally coordinated approach through which MPAs might work together effectively to protect the nation’s natural and cultural marine resources. The recreational fishing community must make it a priority to educate its grassroots constituency on how MPAs are designated and administered because of the dramatic impact they can have on sportfishing.
What’s at stake
The experience with MPAs in California shows what’s at stake for recreational fishing. In 1999 California passed the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). Implementation of the MLPA poses serious questions about the future of marine and sportfishing in California and presents our community a serious challenge because:
Many decisions made pursuant to the MPLA could harm recreational fishing interests. The process for influencing this decision making process is complex and difficult for the public to understand;
At present, statewide, anglers are not organized to participate in this process or for successful opposition to large unwarranted MLPA authorized sportfishing closures;
Environment groups supporting such closures under the MLPA are already well-funded and some have invested in a state/private partnership to fund the implementation of the MLPA in ways that are not in the best interest of recreational fishing;
Environment groups supporting recreational fishing closures appropriate within California MPAs have already invested heavily in media campaigns to achieve their goals;
Recreational fishing interests do not, as yet, have a clear message defending their interests within the MLPA process, nor do they have an organization capable of effectively delivering such a message.
It is clear from this example in California that while the MPAs mission nationally was to maintain sustainable production of natural resources, state level implementation is allowing environmental groups to push the process further than was intended. If the California model is followed throughout the U.S. it could have a dramatic negative impact on recreational fishing opportunities across the United States.
Call To Action:
Keep yourself and your community educated on Marine Protected Areas. Learn more about MPAs and the California Marine Protection Act through support of AFFTA and through ASA (American Sportfishing Association).
Go to ASA Government Affairs page to see more about this issue and others http://www.asafishing.org/asa/government/index.html
Go to http://www.keepamericafishing.org/california_info.asp to learn more about this initiative and upcoming meetings that need your attention as they relate to California Marine Life Protection Act.
Go to http://mpa.gov to learn more about MPA’s and the initiativLearn more about MPAs and the California Marine Protection Act through support of AFFTA and through ASA (American Sportfishing Association).