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.

OPC’s Year in Review: Meeting Challenges, Advancing Equity, Protecting Our Ocean

“As we look to 2022, our goal at the agency is to… continue California’s global leadership, combating climate change, transitioning our economy, and protecting our people and nature in the meantime. I believe strongly that people are resilient and that nature is resilient. We can adapt and weather these changes we are experiencing right now, and we at the Natural Resources Agency and across state government are focused on strengthening the resilience of our communities, our residents, and of our natural places to these changes we are experiencing. I’m optimistic that we will work harder than ever before and make unprecedented process toward building this resilience.” – from California Natural Resources Secretary and Ocean Protection Council Chair Wade Crowfoot’s end of the year video message

As 2021 brought global challenges to the forefront, the state of California responded with bold, decisive actions to protect our coast and ocean. OPC staff led multiple projects designed to restore wetlands, improve water quality, prevent plastic pollution, respond to environmental justice inequities, promote sustainable fisheries, protect marine wildlife and build resilience to climate change.

Despite the many looming threats, we continue to find hope in the form of scientific solutions to the planet’s biggest problems and in the promising work done by our grantees on the front lines. Join us in celebrating specific achievements from the past year below: … read more

California’s MPA monitoring and evaluation program: Promoting healthy oceans in a changing climate

Photo credit: California Sea Grant


California’s collection of 124 marine protected areas (MPAs), which spans the state’s 1,100-mile coastline, is unique in its size, scale, biogeographic and cultural setting, and status as an ecologically connected network. As the MPA network approaches its ten-year anniversary and accompanying first decadal management review in December 2022, Californians want to know: are our MPAs working? In other words, to what extent is the MPA network making progress toward the goals listed in its founding legislation— protecting the state’s natural marine biodiversity, rebuilding depleted populations, and improving ocean health, especially in the face of a changing climate?

… read more

Marine Protected Area (MPA) Outreach and Education Small Grants Program Award Announcements

In collaboration with Coastal Quest, OPC is pleased to announce funding awards to 10 organizations throughout the state of California for the MPA Outreach and Education Small Grants Program, totaling $745,135. This funding supports outreach and education projects to help increase compliance with MPA regulations throughout the state and below Big Sur. The MPA Outreach and Education Small Grants Program is funded by OPC’s once-through cooling (OTC) mitigation fund and designed to ultimately increase marine life associated with MPAs within the geographic region of the OTC facilities.

Additionally, three organizations have received funding from The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Marisla Foundation for outreach and education projects aimed at increasing compliance with MPA regulations in areas outside of the geographic region of OTC facilities and with a focus on serving disadvantaged communities. These project awards total $144,000.

A full list of the organizations that received awards can be found on the Coastal Quest website.

Public Meeting – South Coast Collaborative Forum

Ocean Protection Council representatives will meet with co-chairs and members of the San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, Catalina Island, and Santa Barbara Channel Marine Protected Area Collaboratives, on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, from 10:00 pm to 5:00 pm, at the Cabrillo Aquarium, 3720 Stephen M White Drive, San Pedro, California, to discuss common themes, identify needs, and make plans for the coming year. Council action will not occur at this forum. A copy of the agenda is available here … read more

North Coast Marine Protected Areas Baseline Program Request for Proposals now available

The North Coast Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Baseline Program Request for Proposals is now available on the California Sea Grant website. The North Coast MPA Baseline Program is a collaborative effort among the California Ocean Protection Council, the MPA Monitoring Enterprise, a program of the California Ocean Science Trust (OST), California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), and California Sea Grant. Members of the North Coast community, including North Coast tribes, elected officials, scientists, ocean users, and interested members of the public, informed the development of this RFP. As in the other three regions (i.e., North Central Coast, Central Coast, South Coast), the OPC has authorized $4 million to support the North Coast MPA Baseline Program. … read more