California’s MPA Network: Long-Term Monitoring Begins, Baseline Monitoring Ends

Fort Bragg Community Gathering
CDFW photo by L. Lopez

When California’s marine protected areas (MPAs) were implemented (central coast in 2007, north central coast in 2010, and south coast and north coast in 2012) each region sequentially entered the first phase of the MPA Monitoring Program. Phase 1, regional baseline monitoring, was funded through a $16 million voter-approved investment with $4 million allotted per region. Phase 2, statewide long-term monitoring, began in 2016 with the state committing an annual allotment of $2.5 million.

Phase 1 – Regional baseline monitoring
Phase 1 of the MPA Monitoring Program was sequentially completed from 2013 to 2018 (see table below). The final region, the north coast, is anticipated to wrap up in spring of 2018, upon the submission of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s five-year management recommendations for the north coast MPAs to the California Fish and Game Commission.

After the completion of baseline monitoring, a series of community gatherings were held on the north coast to present and discuss key information from the State of the California North Coast region report and long-term monitoring efforts. Hosted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Ocean Protection Council, and the Ocean Science Trust, the community gatherings were attended by more than 80 participants, including fishermen, tribal citizens, researchers, citizen scientists, educators, and more. Over 30 organizations and many other individuals contributed to north coast baseline monitoring. Eleven coastal ecosystem projects were selected in 2013 through a competitive, peer review process.

Phase 1 Regional Progress and Resources, 2013-2018

Coastal Region Number of Projects Collect Data Analyze, Synthesize, and Share Information Five-Year Review
Central 5 2007-2010 2010-2013 2013
North Central 11 2010-2012 2012-2016 2016
South 10 2011-2013 2013-2017 2017
North 11 2013-2016 2016-2018 2018

Blue: Completed    Yellow: Under way   Peach: To be completed

Phase 2: Statewide long-term monitoring
California is now implementing Phase 2, building on the local knowledge, capacity, and unique considerations for each region, such as ecological and socioeconomic conditions. A MPA Monitoring Action Plan is currently in development and, once approved by the California Fish and Game Commission and the Ocean Protection Council, will guide future monitoring for Phase 2.

For those interested in staying involved in the Phase 2 processes, a public comment period for the draft MPA Monitoring Action Plan is anticipated in 2018. You can sign up for the MPA Management Program mailing list to receive updates about the program.

post by Amanda Van Diggelen, CDFW Environmental Scientist