Large strides have recently been made to ensure the compliance of regulations within California’s network of MPAs. Last August, Governor Brown and lawmakers signed into law Assembly Bill 2369 (Gonzalez Fletcher) to increase fines for commercial poaching in California MPAs. The bill increases fines from $100-$1,000 to $5,000-$40,000 for first offense commercial violations. A second violation results in a $10,000-$50,000 penalty. AB 2369 also gives the California Department of Fish and Wildlife authority to suspend commercial operating licenses.

“California has one of the world’s largest networks of MPAs, protecting 16%, more than half a million acres, of state waters,” explained San Diego County MPA Collaborative Co-chair, Zach Plopper. “Unfortunately, a few bad actors are undermining the system with egregious poaching of resources from our underwater parks,” he continued. WILDCOAST (a San Diego based conservation organization) and the San Diego MPA Collaborative worked with Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, fishermen, tribes, businesses, and conservation groups across California to develop a bill that targets commercial-scale poaching in MPAs.

 After being signed into law by Governor Brown, Assemblymember Gonzalez Fletcher commented that, “the law is an important step in preserving the very delicate coastal ecosystems in California’s protected marine areas. The greedy poachers have done an enormous amount of damage, showing that the current penalties are nominal to their bottom line and they don’t seem to work. I’m pretty sure this new law’s threat of a hefty fine will get their attention.”

The new law will go into effect on January 1, 2019. For more information please follow the link.