Fishing for Research: OPC Staff and the California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program Team Up in Point Lobos

By Stacy Hayden, Communications Manager

It was a calm Friday at 6:30 a.m. when we left the dock on the vessel New Horizon from Old Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey. At the helm was charter boat Captain John Klusmire leading a coffee-fueled group of deck hands and volunteer anglers, including six OPC staff, out along Central California’s rugged coastline. This wasn’t any old fishing trip; this was serious scientific business. Our host for the day, the California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program (CCFRP), has been collaborating on fisheries research with the help of scientists and fishermen since 2007. OPC staff were just a few of the volunteer anglers on board that day supporting CCFRP’s efforts of conducting catch and release data collection to evaluate the effects of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) on fish populations.  

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MPA Monitoring Series: Ask the Researcher, Part 4: Estuaries and Mid-Depth Rocky Habitat

In the final “Ask the Researcher” webinars held in August, participants discussed important MPA monitoring projects in estuarine habitats and mid-depth rocky habitats. To learn more about this exciting summer series and the previous webinars, check out: Ask the Researcher, Part 1: Kelp and Rocky Intertidal Ecosystems, Part 2: Ocean Observing Systems and Sandy Beach Ecosystems, and Part 3: CCFRP and Commercial & CPFV Fisheries.

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MPA Monitoring Series: Ask the Researcher, Part 3: California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program and Commercial & CPFV Fisheries 

In the 5th and 6th “Ask the Researcher” MPA monitoring series webinars held in July, we discussed the California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program (CCFRP) and Human Dimensions: Commercial & Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessel (CPFV) Fishing. To learn more about this exciting summer series, and the previous webinars, check out: Ask the Researcher, Part 1: Kelp and Rocky Intertidal Ecosystems and Part 2: Ocean Observing Systems and Sandy Beach Ecosystems. 

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2022 MPA and Climate Solicitation Updates

We are pleased to announce a new solicitation for grant proposals for projects benefitting California’s ocean and coast, made possible with funding from Proposition 68, Chapter 9. This is the first competitive call for Chapter 9 funds. The priority issue area for this round of Proposition 68 funding is the nexus between marine protected areas and climate resiliency for species, habitats, and people.

The Letters of Intent Form is due on July 29, 2022 by 5:00 p.m.

An informational webinar for prospective applicants was held on July 7, 2022. The webinar recording and webinar slides (PDF) are available. Also, an office hour/Q&A session was held on July 14, 2022. All questions asked at these sessions are now available in this Frequently Asked Questions (PDF) document.

Visit the Prop 68 webpage for complete details.

MPA Monitoring Series: Ask the Researcher, Part 2: Ocean Observing Systems and Sandy Beach Ecosystems 

June marked the second set of OPC’s “Ask the Researcher” MPA monitoring webinar series! In the 3rd and 4th webinars, we discussed Ocean Conditions Observing Systems and Sandy Beaches and Surf Zone Ecosystems. To learn more about this exciting summer series, and the first two webinars, check out: Ask the Researcher, Part 1: Kelp and Rocky Intertidal Ecosystems. 

Ocean Conditions Observing Systems 

The second webinar in the series began with a discussion on integrated ocean observing systems (PDF) with Dr. Henry Ruhl from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Dr. Ruhl started by introducing the California Integrated Ocean Observing System (CA IOOS), a regional partnership between the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS) and the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS). Using satellite data and other ocean observing technologies, the teams developed data products intended to help resource managers and members of the public better understand relationships between environmental factors and MPA performance. 

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UN Ocean Conference Kickoff

By Mark Gold, D.Env.

Sunday night, the Oceano Azul Foundation hosted the 2022 United Nations (UN) Ocean Conference kickoff at the Lisbon Oceanarium. The president of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, delivered a powerful speech making it clear that war and refugee crises can’t be used as an excuse for inaction on climate and ocean conservation. President Rebelo de Sousa also praised the environmental nongovernmental organization (NGO) community for their tireless pursuit of ocean conservation, children for their bold and clear voices on climate and the oceans, and Portugal for their Marine Protected Area program. To have the leader of the host nation kick off the week in such a bold and candid manner should set the tone for the week.

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MPA Monitoring Series: Ask the Researcher, Part 1: Kelp and Rocky Intertidal Ecosystems

scuba diver

Photo: Kelp diver, Credit: Koehn

OPC’s “Ask the Researcher” MPA monitoring webinar series officially launched in May! This summer series highlights key monitoring results from the marine protected area (MPA) monitoring program, connecting audience members directly to California’s leading MPA scientists who describe their research both inside and outside of MPAs along the California coast and answer questions from webinar participants. The webinar series is responsive to feedback heard through community meetings held by California Department of Fish and Wildlife last fall, where members of the public voiced interest in learning more about MPA science and connecting directly to the researchers who monitor California’s key habitats. Results from these monitoring projects, along with information from other sources, are foundational to informing California’s MPA Decadal Management Review, which will be presented to the California Fish and Game Commission in February 2023.   … read more

MPA Monitoring Series: Ask the Researcher

Bring your questions! Join us as we unpack the results of the latest state-funded MPA long-term monitoring projects through an 8-part virtual summer webinar series. Researchers from 24 universities, agencies and institutions across California worked closely with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Ocean Protection Council (OPC) to monitor key habitats both inside and outside of MPAs, including kelp forests, rocky reefs, rocky shores, estuaries, and sandy beaches. Additionally, one project provided a socioeconomic evaluation for commercial and Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessel (CPFV) fisheries. These monitoring projects were aligned with MPA Management Program goals and the monitoring framework established in the MPA Monitoring Action Plan. Results from these monitoring projects, 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.  For those looking to dig deeper into MPA monitoring data, including both baseline and long-term monitoring data, please visit the State’s new California MPA data portal. Snapshot reports outlining key findings from each project are available now in both English and Spanish (linked below). … read more

MPA Statewide Leadership Team Releases Work Plan, Key Tool in MPA Management Program

By Elyse Goin, Sea Grant Fellow

Proving that many heads are better than one, The Marine Protected Area Statewide Leadership Team (Leadership Team) released its 2021-2025 Work Plan and it is a must read for anyone interested in California’s network of marine protected areas.

Leadership Team Overview

The Marine Protect Area Statewide Leadership Team is an advisory team that collaborates on interests pertaining to California’s Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network, which was completed in 2012 through the Marine Life Protection Act. Established in 2014, the MPA Statewide consists of representatives from state and federal agencies, California Native American Tribes and non-governmental partners. The Leadership Team enables communication across our large state in which different regions have varying priorities, ecosystems, deep-time histories and immediate threats. 

Work Plan Contents

The Work Plan was implemented using guidance from The California Collaborative Approach: Marine Protected Areas Partnership Plan and the MLPA Master Plan to outline successful actions and outcomes in alignment with the MPA Management Program. Drawing from these Plans and stakeholder input, the Leadership Team outlined goals pertaining to four key areas of focus. Those areas include:

  1. Outreach and Education,
  2. Research and Monitoring,
  3. Enforcement and Compliance and
  4. Policy and Permitting.

As one reads the Work Plan, they will see overarching goals, strategic priorities, key actions and outcomes attached to each of the four focal areas. It is important to note that the contents of this Work Plan are specific to MPA management throughout fiscal years 21/22- 24/25 and stand alone to the contents of the Decadal Management Review forthcoming in February 2023. The Work Plan does not predict any recommendations or outcomes of the Decadal Management Review.  … read more

Marine Protected Area Long-Term Monitoring Reports Released

Hot off the presses! Results from the Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network long-term monitoring programs are now available online in seven technical reports. These projects represent collaboration between California researchers, the Ocean Protection Council (OPC), California Sea Grant, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

Reef Check divers swim along a transect. Photo credit: Helen Brierley.

California’s MPA Network is a global example of a stakeholder-driven process to connect 124 protected areas. After a decade since Network implementation, the State is in the process of evaluating the MPA Network and progress towards meeting the goals of the Marine Life Protection Act. To prepare for this first-ever decadal management review of the MPA Management Program, OPC has invested significantly in both baseline and long-term monitoring projects to track changes in California’sMPA Network over time. These monitoring projects are only one component of the management review; CDFW will look to several other sources to inform the review report, including long-standing MPA partners and California Native American Tribes. The Decadal Management Review report will be released publicly in January 2023 and presented to the Fish and Game Commission in February 2023.

To stay informed about the decadal management review of California’s MPA Network, please visit CDFW’s Decadal Management Review webpage. If you have questions or would like to submit a comment about the Review, please contact the MPA Management Program.

Shorebirds and kelp wrack on a winter morning at Campus Point SMCA. Results of baseline beach surveys showed a clear connection between kelp wrack and the abundance and diversity of shorebirds— one potential example of a beneficial spillover effect resulting from California’s MPA system. Photo credit: David Hubbard.