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California's Areas of Special Biological Significance

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What is a...?

ASBS stands for Area of Special Biological Significance. These are 34 ocean areas monitored and maintained for water quality by the State Water Resources Control Board. ASBS cover much of the length of California's coastal waters. They support an unusual variety of aquatic life, and often host unique individual species. ASBS are basic building blocks for a sustainable, resilient coastal environment and economy.

MPA stands for Marine Protected Area. California maintains three kinds of MPAs: state marine reserves, state marine parks and state marine conservation areas. They are designated specifically to protect aquatic life, and often are often associated with ASBS. MPAs are designated by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife and the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

Marine Sanctuaries are federal areas similar to national parks. They often cover vast areas, and offer another layer of special protection for the water and aquatic life within their boundaries. They are managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). There are four National Marine Sanctuaries off the coast of California. They often are associated with ASBS.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is implementing a comprehensive, science-based national system of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). California's 34 ASBS are among the first state areas accepted into the national system. You can see the national system at http://marineprotectedareas.noaa.gov/dataanalysis/mpainventory/mpaviewer/ .