Protecting Seabirds Through the Marine Life Protection Act

Audubon California is taking part in a statewide effort to establish protected marine habitats.

Audubon California is taking part in a statewide effort to establish protected marine habitats up and down the coast because we see this as a rare opportunity to safeguard prime  habitats for Pacific Coast seabirds.

Underwater parks
Californians have been setting aside land to safeguard wildlife for more than 100 years, but it wasn’t until 1999 that the California Legislature passed the Marine Life Protection Act. This was a big step for conservation, as marine reserves around the world have been proven to protect and restore ocean life.

The state has established a process that calls for various interests – conservation, fishing, recreation, science – to work together to establish new protected areas. By 2012, approximately 20% of state waters will be fully or partly protected through this process.

Benefits for birds
Marine protected areas benefit seabirds by replenishing food sources such as rockfish (essential for seabird chicks, and herring and herring roe (vital for loons, grebes, and cormorants, and waterfowl including scaups, Brant, Bufflehead, and Surf Scoters).

These protected areas also reduce repeated disturbances from vessels that can cause breeding colonies to fail. Reduced fishing traffic in protected areas and special closures dramatically lowers disturbance at colonies. Once disturbance is reduced, birds can quickly colonize desirable locations.

More support for Important Bird Areas
The Marine Life Protection Act provides Audubon California, local chapters, and our partners in conservation with another important tool to protect California Important Bird Areas. These sites have been identified by Audubon California as essential habitat for breeding, wintering, and migrating birds – and many of these sites are in coastal areas.

More information
Visit the California Department of Fish & Games’ website for more information about the Marine Life Protect Act.

How you can help, right now