Just Released: Two Scientific Reports Informing Marine Protected Area Network Management and Evaluation

California’s network of 124 marine protected areas (MPAs), completed in 2012, is approaching its 10-year anniversary. This milestone will be recognized by an inaugural MPA Decadal Management Review in 2022. Led by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the review will be an informative update to the California Fish and Game Commission on the MPA Management Program and its progress toward meeting the goals of the Marine Life Protection Act. The Marine Life Protection Act establishes that MPA management shall be grounded in sound science, and this fundamental value has been a key driver in both the creation and continued management of the MPA Network.

Lending scientific support to the 2022 review are two newly released reports: Scientific Guidance for Evaluating California’s Marine Protected Area Network and Climate Resilience and California’s Marine Protected Area Network. The first report refines and builds upon the science questions and performance objectives in the MPA Monitoring Action Plan to help guide MPA Network evaluation, while the second report explores the potential for the MPA Network to increase ecological and societal resilience to climate change. Both reports identify knowledge gaps and suggest approaches for addressing research priorities, advancing science to better serve adaptive management of California’s MPAs.

The public release of these reports is the culmination of an intensive three-year effort by two separate expert working groups of the Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team. The working groups were comprised of scientists with expertise in MPA science, marine ecology, population and community ecology, ecological modeling, anthropology, marine resource management, fisheries science, oceanography, and climate science. Convened by the Ocean Science Trust with support from the Ocean Protection Council, CDFW, and the California Fish and Game Commission, the development of these reports was truly a collaborative undertaking.

The reports provide the State with critical scientific guidance to inform the management and evaluation of the MPA Network for the 2022 review and beyond. CDFW is pleased to announce their release and share these resources with the public. Additional information about the 2022 review, informational resources, and opportunities to engage will be posted on CDFW’s soon-to-be-released MPA Decadal Management Review web page.

post by Chenchen Shen, CDFW Environmental Scientist