MPA Collaboratives: The Local Voices of Marine Protected Area Management

Hundreds of stakeholders and some coastal Tribes contributed to the process of redesigning California’s marine protected areas (MPAs) to function as a network. By sharing information, voicing opinions, and providing expertise, they helped establish a globally recognized system of 124 ecologically connected MPAs with varying levels of protection. While it has been nearly 10 years since California’s MPA Network was completed in 2012, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) continues to encourage public involvement to inform adaptive management of the Network.

California’s MPA Network is managed through the MPA Management Program, a collaboration between CDFW, the Ocean Protection Council, the California Fish and Game Commission, and the MPA Statewide Leadership Team. While the Leadership Team is composed primarily of government partners and Tribal representatives, one of the key representatives outside of government is the MPA Collaborative Network (MPACN).

Honor the Ocean Celebration 2018 flyer
Image courtesy of MPACN

The MPACN was formed in 2013 to ensure local constituents could continue to have a voice in the management of their local MPAs. In 2017, a formal agreement was reached between the MPACN and Leadership Team recognizing the importance of the MPACN’s ability to gather local expertise to support the management of the MPAs statewide.

With 14 individual “collaboratives” representing California’s coastal counties, the MPACN provides a forum for nonprofits, fishermen, tribal representatives, government staff, municipalities, academic institutions, citizen scientists, teachers, aquariums, and others to work together to enhance awareness and understanding about MPAs and the activities permitted within their boundaries.MPACN logo

The mission of the MPACN is to empower coastal communities to advance MPA management and encourage ocean stewardship. This mission has led to many local successes as each collaborative engages its local community regarding MPAs through meetings, videos, brochures, trainings, and outreach events. Many of the unique contributions each of these Collaboratives have created and provided regarding their local MPAs have been featured in a special blog series posted through CDFW’s Marine Management News.

If you would like to get involved with your local collaborative, visit the MPA Collaborative Network website and join the more than 600 members working to connect communities with their local MPAs!

This article has been updated since it was first printed in a CDFW MPA Management Program e-newsletter in February, 2019. 

post by Amanda Van Diggelen, CDFW Environmental Scientist

This article is part of a series featuring California MPA Collaboratives. Read archived MPA News articles and the series Exploring California’s MPAs for more stories and information about California’s marine protected areas!