California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Species Likely to Benefit from the Establishment of Marine Protected Areas in California

Tables of Species Likely to Benefit from Marine Protected Areas

The Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) requires CDFW to identify select species or groups of species likely to benefit from marine protected areas (MPAs). The primary difference with regards to living resources in an MPA is a change in either fishing effort or the removal of certain species.

Those species likely to benefit by a decrease in the level of harvest are those directly targeted by fisheries as well as incidentally caught or bycatch species. An equally important consideration is the tendency of individuals of a species to move either seasonally or at different life stages. Species with a strong tendency to move may not benefit significantly from the establishment of MPAs unless individual sites are large enough to encompass their entire range of movement. These mobile species include pelagic species (e.g. anchovies and sardines), highly migratory species (e.g. tunas), and others. However, establishing MPAs in areas which are known spawning grounds for mobile species may provide benefits by allowing successful spawning.

The following tables of species were compiled by CDFW staff with assistance from a scientific panel. Species were included if their known life history traits suggest they would be likely to benefit from decreased harvest in MPAs. The lists include species that are or were historically targeted by commercial or recreational fisheries. These lists are preliminary and may be revised during the initiative process.

(These lists were revised in August 2007)

Response to Fish and Game Commission Request for Information on Impacts of MPAs on Specific Species

In 2002, the Fish and Game Commission requested that CDFW provide information on selected species and the projected benefits for each of those species that would result from their inclusion in MPAs. For these select species CDFW provided the following information:

  • The status of the population and, if known, CDFW's best professional opinion as to whether the population is stable, increasing, or decreasing, and why it may require additional protections
  • The traditional fishery management measure enacted at the state and federal levels including all size and possession limits, quotas, optimum yields, trip limits, seasonal closures, gear restrictions, effort reductions or permit limitations, for both commercial and recreational fisheries, and why these measures are inadequate
  • Other benefits that MPAs are expected to afford the species

This information was requested for the following species or species groups: kelp bass and sand bass; abalone; black seabass; white seabass; shelf rockfish; nearshore rockfish; sheephead, cabezon, kelp greenling and rock greenling; garibaldi; sea urchins; lobster; corbinas; surfperches; crabs; halibut; ocean whitefish; and giant kelp. The following report was prepared in response to the Commission request.