California Ocean Protection Act (amended 2011)

The California Ocean Protection Act (COPA) was signed into law in 2004 by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, establishing the California Ocean Protection Trust Fund and the Ocean Protection Council (OPC). As amended in 2011, COPA is also a tool in assisting city governments to plan for climate change adaptation and sea level rise.

The Ocean Protection Council seeks to improve management, conservation, and protection of coastal waters and ocean ecosystems by:

  • Coordinating activities of state agencies that are related to the ocean and coasts, to improve the effectiveness of state efforts to protect ocean resources
  • Establishing policies to coordinate the collection and sharing of scientific data related to ocean and coastal resources between agencies
  • Identifying and recommending to the changes in law and related actions to the Governor and Legislature

COPA implements policies specifically related to climate change adaptation. The Act mandates the provision of  funding for adaptive management, planning, coordination, monitoring, research, and other necessary activities to minimize the adverse impacts of climate change on California's ocean ecosystem, including, but not limited to, the effects of sea level rise, changes in ocean productivity, and ocean acidification on coastal and ocean habitat, wildlife, fisheries, chemistry, and other key attributes of ocean ecosystems - and to increase the state's understanding of the ocean's role in carbon sequestration.

Specifically, it  mandates that adaptive management strategies, planning, research, monitoring, or other activities shall be designed to improve the management of coastal and ocean resources or aid the state to adapt to climate change impacts.

Further, the Act calls for increasing the amount of baseline scientific and geospatial information that is available to public agencies in a publicly accessible, electronic, and geospatial format – specifically with respect to the effects of climate change on coastal and ocean ecosystems.

The California Ocean Protection Act also created the institutional and financial structures needed for older, unimplemented policies to be enacted, such as the Marine Life Protection Act (1999) and the Marine Life Management Act (1999). The Marine Life Protection Act mandated the creation of 124 interconnected marine protected areas based on comprehensive mapping and ecosystem-based marine spatial planning.


Publication Date: January 2011

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  • Laws

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