Mike Chrisman, California's Secretary for Resources, has announced that the process to define Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) along the Southern California Coast will begin in early 2008. This is a result of the Marine Life Protection Act, which mandated the creation of MPAs to protect the state's ocean life.
The process will apparently take the same form as those in the 2 previous regions: the Central Coast (now finalized) and the North Central Coast. A science panel and a stakeholder panel will come up with maps defining areas with different levels of protection (No-Take, Lobsters Only, Recreational Fishing Only, etc). Those panels will report to a blue-ribbon commission, composed of high-level public figures, who will form a recommendation from the various alternatives they come up with. They'll pass that recommendation on to the Fish & Game Commission, who will ultimately decide on the placement of these areas.
The Fish & Game Commission will try to hear all voices, and consider all the points of view expressed. The Commission gets high marks for organizing the process in a structured way in the 2 previous regions. It'll be interesting to see how things work out in the South!