California Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative – Regional Stakeholder Groups
In 1999, the California legislature passed the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), which was California’s attempt to employ an ecosystem-based management approach to protect its marine resources. In 2004, a public private partnership – the MLPA Initiative – was established to guide implementation of the Act. Over a seven-year period, Kearns & West staff designed and facilitated four regional stakeholder groups as part of this effort. Each regional stakeholder group was charged with developing alternative proposals for marine protected areas in state waters. Parties in these processes included commercial and recreational fishing interests, tribes, harbormasters, ocean-dependent industries, conservation organizations, consumptive and non-consumptive divers, education and research interests, community members, and federal, state, and local agencies. The work included intensive strategic planning, process design, and agreement-focused facilitation tasks, including providing support for the Initiative’s Blue Ribbon Task Force and Science Advisory Team. It also included facilitation of public workshops, including workshops with tribal groups. The work on the central, north central and south coasts resulted in the successful development of alternative marine protected area proposals that the regional stakeholder groups forwarded to the Blue Ribbon Task Force for consideration and action. The north coast regional stakeholder group produced a single unified proposal. All of these proposals were sent to the California Fish and Game Commission for adoption.