California’s network of marine protected areas (MPAs) spans north to south, border to border, and touches every coastal county. Thirteen of the 124 MPAs managed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife are located within Los Angeles County. These 13 MPAs collectively protect around 66 square miles of diverse habitats, including a deep submarine canyon, rocky reefs and kelp forests, sandy beaches, tidepools, tidal flats, and surfgrass beds (read more about these habitats here).
Of the 13 MPAs found within Los Angeles County, four of them are located on the mainland, and the remaining nine are at Santa Catalina Island. The four mainland MPAs, Point Dume State Marine Reserve, Point Dume State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA), Point Vicente SMCA, and Abalone Cove SMCA, are the focus for the Los Angeles (LA) MPA Collaborative. Catalina Island’s nine MPAs are the focus of the Catalina Island MPA Collaborative.
Similar to the other 13 MPA Collaboratives throughout coastal California that make up the MPA Collaborative Network, the LA MPA Collaborative is comprised of a diverse group ranging from city, state, and federal government agencies, non-profit organizations, Tribal representatives, anglers, students, researchers, private businesses and others. Members gather quarterly to discuss outreach and education projects, research and monitoring priorities, enforcement concerns, and emerging issues regarding their local MPAs.
Currently co-chaired by Linda Chilton from USC SeaGrant, Michael Quill from Los Angeles Waterkeeper, and Emily Parker with Heal the Bay, this collaborative is committed to educating the public about local MPAs. Given the diverse populace found in the Los Angeles area, one of their primary concerns is producing outreach materials reflective of, and accessible to, the diverse communities of the region.
According to Michael Quill, “By embracing our diversity we hope to enrich our communities’ awareness of its connection to the earth, the ocean, and to each other.” This effort requires tapping into local knowledge and resources to involve the community in MPA outreach, and connecting community members with their local MPAs. Final products, like this brochure and local MPA signage, available in both English and Spanish, are the result of a community effort. The collaborative also hopes to replicate these outreach efforts using some of the other languages spoken in the Los Angeles area.
In addition to producing physical resources like brochures and signs, the LA MPA Collaborative and one of its partners, the Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation, hosted the Honor the Ocean Celebration. First occurring in 2016 in Malibu, this biennial event invites the public to spend a day at the beach celebrating and learning about indigenous Chumash maritime culture and other work conducted by Collaborative members to preserve and protect ocean and coastal resources. According to Linda Chilton, “The LA Collaborative’s Honor the Ocean Day provides an opportunity to celebrate and honor our local marine resources and our connection with each other and the ocean.”
The next Honor the Ocean Celebration was scheduled for Fall 2020, but due to Covid-19 it has been rescheduled for 2021. If you are in the area next year, consider attending this event to learn all about Chumash and other local indigenous cultural traditions, and their deep connections to the coast. In addition to providing a space for the public to learn traditional indigenous stories, multiple booths hosted by agencies and non-profit organizations provide resources on marine education and activities. Attendees can learn about Los Angeles’s coastal habitats and find out more ways to get involved with preserving California’s iconic coastline!
If you are interested in learning more about the Los Angeles mainland MPAs and want to get involved in the LA MPA Collaborative, visit their web page and sign up to be on the mailing list. It’s a great way to stay involved and up to date on conversations surrounding the four mainland MPAs they help steward. If you are interested in joining a different Collaborative, visit the MPA Collaborative Network website to find one near you!
post by Amanda Van Diggelen, CDFW Environmental Scientist