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Lessons in State Implementation of Marine Reserves: California's Marine Life Protection Act Initiative

May 2006

Citation: 36 ELR 10376

Issue: 5

Author: James Mize

Editors' Summary: The oceans are one of earth's most valuable natural resources, yet they continue to be threatened by pollution, overfishing, habitat destruction, and coastal sprawl. Marine reserves, discrete areas of the ocean where no extraction of marine life is allowed, offer a powerful tool for protecting species and ecosystem health. Although most efforts at implementing marine reserves in the United States are taken at the federal level, several states, including California, have developed their own marine reserve programs. In this Article, Capt. James Mize focuses on California's experience in creating marine reserves, focusing primarily on the challenges that arose during its implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act. In so doing, he offers a number of recommendations that other states can use in designing their own programs to protect this important resource.

Capt. James Mize is a J.D./M.B.A. candidate, University of California, Los Angeles, expected 2008 (currently on leave pursuing a Fulbright fellowship in New Zealand studying marine reserves). This Article was written under the support of the Budweiser Conservation Scholarship program, administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and generously funded by Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the U.S. government or the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the U.S. government or the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The author wishes to thank the following mentors for their contributions, support, and/or editorial review: Mark Fina, David Fluharty, Peter May, Mary Nichols, Mike Weber, and one anonymous reviewer. Any remaining errors, however, are solely attributable to the author.

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