California's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) was practically doomed from the start. California's politicians passed the bill in 1999 and the public rejected it the same year. Each year since, the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) has made valiant efforts to implement the act, but by 2003, the MLPA was dead in the water with no support and no funding. That is until the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation swooped in and threw the MLPA a $146 million lifeline. (See Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation: Grants for Marine and River Conservation).
The Moore Foundation is a staunch supporter of environmental conservation of all flavors. In 2004, the foundation declared "Save the fishes!" Well, the fishes that live off the California coast — the foundation pledged to donate $146 million from 2004 to 2015 toward that end. Not to get into it too deep, but the MLPA's goal is to conserve the marine environment and biodiversity of California's coastal waters. The premise being that if the fish have nowhere to live, they have nowhere to breed — and if the fish can't have babies, well, you get the picture.
The Moore Foundation's latest $5 million check was written to the somewhat controversial — some even say "shadowy" — Resources Legacy Fund for the Phase 4 implementation of the MLPA. The shadowy opinion was that of one person and I haven't found any evidence of any back-door dealings regarding the Resources Legacy Fund.
However, there are some controversies surrounding the MLPA, with the biggest criticisms being that although the act supports the creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) along California's coast, it doesn't protect from oil drilling or fracking. You can't please everyone, but when working with a conservation effort that has been largely unorganized in the past with no specific scientific approaches, you have to start somewhere. Focusing on pollution, overfishing, and other human activities that lead to the degradation of coastal habitats is as good a place as any.