La Jolla Cove, Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve California is famous for its national parks and monuments, but one of its greatest conservation success stories is not nearly as well known. In 1999, the state passed the Marine Life Protection Act, which mandated the creation of a statewide system of marine protected areas. In 2004, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife launched an initiative to develop a management strategy for implementing the law. An exhaustive eight-year planning process followed, involving community meetings, workshops, and hearings to solicit public input and scientific expertise. When the plan was completed in 2012, 119 MPAs and five state marine recreational managed areas had been established. The rules governing individual MPAs vary greatly, but all are subject to some level of regulation prohibiting or limiting human activities in order to conserve and protect marine resources. Stretching from border to border—and mostly underwater—the system constitutes the largest continuous network of marine protected areas in the world. In 2012, photographer Jasmine Swope set out to chronicle this conservation achievement. Over the course of two years, she traveled the length of California’s 1,100-mile coastline, visiting and photographing the shoreline of at least 60 MPAs, from Cabrillo State […]

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