In 2012, California became an international leader in ocean protection by completing the US’ first statewide network of marine protected areas (MPAs). Just as parks on land protect special lands and wildlife from overdevelopment, MPAs are underwater parks that preserve California’s stunning marine ecosystems for future generations to observe and enjoy. These areas have been called “hope spots” because they are our best hope in restoring the beauty and bounty of ocean life threatened by overfishing, pollution and habitat destruction. Scientific studies have shown that MPAs help restore depleted fish and wildlife populations. Check out the 10-year summary of how our local MPAs are working.
The Santa Barbara Channel is protected by a network of 19 MPAs, five along the coast and 14 surrounding the Channel Islands. Each MPA was designated to set aside a particularly special area of the marine environment to create a robust network of protection covering over 350 square miles.
There are several different types of MPAs in the Channel:
Prohibits damage or take of all marine resources (living, geologic, or cultural) including recreational and commercial
State Marine Conservation Areas
May allow some recreational and/or commercial take of marine resources (restrictions vary)
No-take State Marine Conservation Areas
Generally prohibits the take of living, geological, and cultural marine resources, but allows potentially affected and ongoing permitted activities such as dredging and maintenance to continue
Areas designated by the Fish and Wildlife Commission that prohibit access or restrict boating activities in waters adjacent to sea bird rookeries or marine mammal haul-out sites (restrictions vary)
Channelkeeper was deeply involved in the multi-stakeholder process of developing the Southern California MPA network. Today, we work to monitor these special areas through our MPA Watch program and to raise public awareness and promote stewardship of our MPAs, including through educational cruises on our boat and partnerships with local ocean recreation outfitters to offer excursions to explore MPAs. Channelkeeper also participates as an active member of the Santa Barbara Channel MPA Collaborative, a combined effort of government agencies, nonprofits, and fishing representatives, to conduct localized implementation of marine conservation efforts in MPAs through regional communication and cooperation.