The first outcomes from long-term monitoring of California’s Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network are now available online in seven technical reports, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Ocean Protection Council, and California Sea Grant have announced.
Research and monitoring is an essential pillar in California’s MPA Management Program. Monitoring focuses on key habitats both inside and outside of MPAs, including kelp forests, rocky reefs, rocky shores, and sandy beaches. Other areas of interest like fisheries and oceanographic conditions were also monitored.
Baseline monitoring was conducted from 2007 through 2018, around the time of MPA implementation in each of four planning regions along the coast. These studies were conducted to establish a benchmark for future studies to be compared with. Subsequently, long-term monitoring began in 2019 as a statewide effort. The first round of monitoring projects were completed at the end of 2021, and the technical reports are now publicly available.
Long-term monitoring projects were awarded to research groups through a competitive grant process funded by the Ocean Protection Council and administered by California Sea Grant. Researchers from 24 universities, agencies, and institutions across California worked closely with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Ocean Protection Council to ensure alignment with MPA Management Program goals and the framework established in the MPA Monitoring Action Plan. Results from these reports, along with information from other sources, will inform California’s MPA Decadal Management Review (DMR) report to the California Fish and Game Commission in February 2023.
Although this is the first round of reports released from long-term MPA monitoring, it will not be the last! MPA monitoring of key habitats will continue through the DMR. Additionally, ongoing projects include the development of a statewide estuary MPA monitoring program and development of a Tribal Marine Stewards Network pilot program to involve Tribes in MPA monitoring. Monitoring results and future research plans will be a major topic of discussion throughout the DMR process. Additional information about the DMR can be found on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s DMR web page. If you have questions or want to provide feedback, please contact the MPA Management Program.
post by Chenchen Shen, CDFW Environmental Scientist