MPAs in California’s Central Coast region, which includes all state waters from Pigeon Point to Point Conception, were implemented on September 22, 2007 under the Marine Life Protection Act.

Ongoing Monitoring

As the first region to implement MPAs under the Marine Life Protection Act, the Central Coast will be the first region to launch ongoing monitoring. The MPA Monitoring Enterprise – a program of California Ocean Science Trust, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the California Ocean Protection Council (Program Partners) have begun a collaborative effort to plan and implement ongoing MPA monitoring in the Central Coast that builds on baseline monitoring in the region.

In the first step of the planning effort, the Central Coast MPA Monitoring Plan is being updated to reflect the results of Central Coast baseline monitoring, apply the statewide MPA monitoring framework, and ensure consistency with existing monitoring plans for North Central Coast and South Coast MPAs. This project is underway and will continue through April 2014.

The updated monitoring plan will ensure that monitoring in the region evaluates MPA performance relative to the goals of the MLPA. It will provide the scientific guidance to implement the next steps of monitoring and inform the next turn of the adaptive management cycle. The monitoring plan will be updated through a collaborative process to ensure that the plan reflects the best available science, stakeholder priorities and management information needs.

Following development of the Monitoring Plan, Program Partners will design and launch a Central Coast MPA monitoring program by evaluating the opportunity provided by existing monitoring programs, identifying data gaps, identifying management and monitoring priorities, and building an efficient program with a mosaic of partners. View the project timeline and FAQs for more details, and join the Central Coast Ongoing Monitoring group [link] at OceanSpaces.org [link: http://oceanspaces.org/] for updates and opportunities to participate in the ongoing monitoring process.

Baseline Monitoring

Sharing Monitoring Results

Results from the Central Coast Baseline monitoring program are now accessible in a new summary report: State of the California Central Coast: Results from Baseline Monitoring of Marine Protected Areas 2007-2012, California Ocean Science Trust and California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California, USA. February 2013.

This report was produced by OST's Monitoring Enterprise team working in partnership with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and in collaboration with the Central Coast MPA Baseline Program Principal Investigators as well as many other partners and colleagues in the region. The report is available as a PDF and is also being hosted as an 'E-Book' on OceanSpaces. The E-Book format allows you begin with the summary results and then dive deeper into interactive graphics, videos and raw data. It is designed to provide a richer understanding of the results, as well as of the community who conducted the monitoring.

Baseline results were also shared at a public symposium, State of the California Central Coast, held February 27 – March 1, 2013 in Monterey, CA. Presentations and panel discussions can be viewed on OceanSpaces. We continue to work closely with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Central Coast baseline project researchers and other partners to share baseline results with policy-makers, resource managers, stakeholders and scientists. The results will be formally presented to the Fish and Game Commission in late Spring 2013 to inform the adaptive management of the regional MPA network.

Key Findings

Academic, agency and citizen scientists studied a range of ecosystems including kelp forests, rocky shores and deep reefs to document patterns in marine life populations and communities through the Central Coast region. Patterns of human use, including commercial and recreational fishing, were also documented. The scientific data gathered, and analysis conducted, add up to the most detailed picture created of current ocean conditions along California's Central Coast. The baseline results serve as a valuable reference point for examining future changes and evaluating the effectiveness of MPA management.

Key findings from monitoring indicate that the Central Coast MPAs are on track. In kelp forests and on nearshore reefs, a range of economically important fish species including cabezon, lingcod, and black rockfish increased in relative abundance in MPAs compared to reference areas. Numbers and sizes of protected black abalone and harvested owl limpets increased inside MPAs, suggesting protection from fishing pressure, increased compliance with MPA regulations and/or effective MPA enforcement.

In addition, fishing remains an integral part of the Central Coast ocean economy. Monitoring results show limited effects and that the local ocean economy has responded, in part, by broadening to include more non-consumptive activities. For example, a shift in activities, such as whale watching tours, demonstrates adaptation and resilience in the industry.

Additional Resources