Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

MPAs, MLPAs: A salty alphabet soup

We've got another regional meeting for what to do with marine protected areas off shore, Tuesday, in southern California. The process for establishing marine protected areas is in full simmer in southern California, for waters from Point Concepcion to the Mexican border. Stirred into the soup are acronyms and words like stakeholder. I love me some jargon, but usually out of curiosity, as opposed to out loud, on the radio. So here's a primer. 10 years ago, California got a Marine Life Protection Act. That's the MLPA. It sets goals for evaluating the state of marine life in coastal waters, and it authorizes marine protected areas. Those are MPAs. The state Department of Fish and Game is implementing the law. That's the DFG. It was about a century ago that California started making protected areas offshore. Some didn't stick; others did, and are wildlife areas, and ecological reserves. Under the terms of the new law, the process for deciding what to protect now is supposed to be science based. The state's gathered people to drop some science knowledge: they're the Science Advisory Team. That's the SAT. Then there's the Blue Ribbon Task Force. "[S]elected by the secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency for their knowledge, vision, public policy experience, and diversity of professional expertise." You can read more about them here. These people also drop knowledge: management, law, policy. That's the BRTF. No idea how to say that. Someone's looking out for California's interests as a whole; they're creatively named the Statewide Interests Group. That's the SIG. Each place the state's doing all this also has the Regional Stakeholder Group. RSG. We've got 64 people on that in the south coast - plus alternates. Speaking of, there's the South Coast Region. That's the SCR - where we live. Mix 'em up to fool friends and family! Or clip 'n save:

MLPA = a law MPA = a place in coastal waters DFG = an agency SAT = a test, but in this context, a bunch of scientists BRTF = a bunch of lawyers, scholars, and policymakers SIG = representin' for the state RSG = representin' for a region SCR = our region

Acronyms go with government hearings like red ties go with Capitol Hill, or hair extensions go with Hollywood. Here, they help point up the challenge California's got to find out what your average beachgoer, kayaker, birdwatcher, surfer, party boater, spearfisherman, snorkler, tourist, or other coastal user thinks about all this. Alphabet soup can be hard to read. Will southern Californians who aren't activists or members of trade groups take part in the MLPA process?