This summer, I ventured to join the Santa Barbara community in order to help protect our ocean — a dream I have had since I was a child hoping to be a lawyer for the sharks. I did not come to realize the power of this effort until I visited a marine protected area (MPA) upon my arrival at UC Santa Barbara and saw a decommissioned oil rig right beyond the border of the protected space. 

The Campus Point No-Take State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) “protects 10 square miles of coastal waters” which house a habitat for rockfish, endangered western snowy plovers, crabs, anemones, and several other species. It shields the migratory patterns of gray whales and resident birds, and conserves a significant amount of indigenous cultural heritage connected to the coast and waters. After learning about the importance of this MPA, the symbol of this oil rig motivated me with a picture-perfect example of why I joined Environment California to expand Marine Protected Areas. 

As Governor Newsom and his administration consider new protections this summer, it is paramount that we as Californians make it known that environmental stewardship is a priority for our community and state. Right next to our homes and recreation areas, the Campus Point SMCA demonstrates the power of MPAs as a tool of citizen activism to save the things we cherish from exploitation. We must call on our elected leaders to expand MPAs to ensure the California coastline’s protection.

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