Download current MSLT Work Plan: FY 21/22 – 24/25


The California legislature passed the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) in 1999, responding to the need to redesign California’s marine protected areas (MPAs) and improve their effectiveness at supporting healthy and sustainable marine ecosystems. The fully redesigned MPA network was completed in 2012. Through the science-based and stakeholder-driven process to implement the MLPA, state resource managers realized a key component to success was strong active partnerships.

In April 2014, the MPA Statewide Leadership Team (Leadership Team) was convened as a standing advisory body to ensure communication, collaboration, and coordination among entities that have significant authority, mandates, or interests that relate to the MPA Network. The founding membership of the Leadership Team was guided by the Marine Managed Area Improvement Act (PRC 36800) which describes a State Interagency Coordination Committee to ensure coordinated management of marine managed areas and includes state, federal, and key non-profit partners that are actively engaged in the MPA Management Program and are signatories on the MLPA Implementation Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). While the MOU establishes the parties to the Leadership Team, the Charter serves as a guiding document for the operational procedures. The Leadership Team will continue to add members at the direction of the Secretary for Natural Resources to ensure a comprehensive representation of key partners in the MPA Management Program.

The founding members of the Leadership Team include state and federal agencies, departments, boards, and commissions with jurisdiction or management interests over marine managed areas. The California Department of Fish & Wildlife manages the statewide MPA Network, while the Ocean Protection Council serves as the state’s MPA policy lead. The Fish and Game Commission is the regulatory authority, which designates MPAs and adopts their rules and regulations. The Department of Parks & Recreation and its Commission also are designated as a managing and regulatory authority for some types of MPAs. Other regulatory and trustee agencies, such as the California Coastal CommissionState Lands Commission, and State Water Resources Control Board, have jurisdictions that overlap with MPA management activities, as does the West Coast Regional Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the National Parks Service. The Leadership Team also includes four Tribal Representative seats and their associated alternate based on geographic region; North – California/Oregon border to Mattole River, North Central – Mattole River to Golden Gate Bridge, Central – Golden Gate Bridge to Point Conception, South – Point Conception to US/Mexico border.

Additionally, the Leadership Team includes key partners outside of government. The California Ocean Science Trust, is a non-profit boundary organization that works in close partnership with these entities to support a science-based approach to ocean and coastal management, including helping to design and implement the MPA Monitoring Program. The MPA Collaborative Network engages California’s diverse coastal communities including nonprofits, members of the fishing community, tribal representatives, local governments, scientists and others in MPA stewardship and management to enhance understanding and compliance of MPAs. The Resources Legacy Fund (RLF) designs and administers initiatives for philanthropic foundations and individuals that result in significant conservation outcomes. RLF contributed significantly to the MLPA initiative and is the signatory of a Memorandum of Understanding with the state to continue to support the implementation of the MLPA. Effective stewardship of California’s MPA Network requires a coordinated approach among these organizations, as well as other partners.

Operationally, the Leadership Team is made up of two primary components, the Executive Committee and the Working Group. The Executive Committee, which includes the Secretary for Natural Resources and the Directors of member organizations, comes together twice a year in March and September at the MPA Milestones Meeting in Sacramento. These meetings provide opportunities for high level review of the outcomes from the Working Group, and for setting priority work areas for the coming months. The Working Group is comprised of a single representative from each member organization at a program manager (or higher) level. The Working Group meets quarterly in Sacramento, and more frequently via teleconference as needed, to complete tasks and projects identified by the Executive Committee and identify priority work areas for approval by the Executive Committee. The Leadership Team is administered by OPC staff.

The Leadership Team has developed “The California Collaborative Approach: Marine Protected Area Partnership Plan” and a Work Plan to guide the partnership-based MPA Management Program, as capacity allows from 2021-2025. The Work Plan is comprised of strategic priorities, actions, and outcomes within the four focal areas which include outreach and education, enforcement and compliance, research and monitoring, and policy and permitting. The Work Plan is updated by the team as required.


Seats on the Team are designated by the leadership of each organization and approved by the Secretary for Natural Resources. Tribal Seats serve a three-year term. There is no prohibition of members reapplying for an additional term and there is no term limit.

The MPA Statewide Leadership Team generally works to achieve consensus when providing formal recommendations or advice to decision makers. In times when unanimous agreement is not achieved, written recommendations will include both the consenting and dissenting opinions.

Back to the Marine Protected Area Homepage.


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For general questions about the MPA Statewide Leadership Team contact:

Tova Handelman
Senior Marine Protected Areas Program Manager

For questions specific to Tribal Representatives contact:

North Coast Tribal Representative:
Megan Van Pelt

North Central Coast Tribal Representatives:
Primary Representative: Reno Franklin

Alternate Representative: Lorelle Ross

South Coast Tribal Representative:
Teresa Romero