In 1999, the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) directed the State of California to design and manage a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) in state waters to safeguard marine life and habitats, ecosystems, and natural heritage, as well as to improve recreational, educational, and study opportunities provided by marine ecosystems. The California MPLA Initiative was created as a public-private partnership to help the state develop a network of MPAs using the best readily available science, as well as the advice and assistance of scientists, resource managers, members of the public, and other stakeholders.
During a two-year public planning process, stakeholders used MarineMap to help identify the best locations for MPAs off the coast of Southern California. Through the use of this open source, Web-based tool, stakeholders drew, evaluated, and discussed proposed MPAs. The tool allowed stakeholders to create multiple iterations of proposals on the fly and generate statistics and charts to evaluate the proposals using science-based guidelines.
MarineMap enabled stakeholders in Southern California to visualize oceanographic, biological, geological, and human-related dimensions of ocean and coastal areas. At the end of the two-year process, stakeholders provided the MPA recommendations to the California Fish and Game Commission, which adopted regulations to create 36 new MPAs encompassing approximately 187 square miles of water off the coast of Southern California.