The North Central Coast region includes all state waters along the California coastline from Alder Creek, near Point Arena, to Pigeon Point, including the Farallon Islands. MPAs in this region were implemented on May 1, 2010 under the Marine Life Protection Act.

Baseline Monitoring

The North Central Coast MPA Baseline Program was launched in 2010, and is overseen by a collaboration among the Monitoring Enterprise (a program within the California Ocean Science Trust), California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Ocean Protection Council, and California Sea Grant. This program consists of 11 projects, and provides a summary of ecological and socioeconomic conditions inside and outside North Central Coast MPAs near the time of MPA implementation. Researchers monitored a suite of ecosystems, from sandy beaches, rocky reefs and kelp forests, to the 380-foot deep waters around the Farallon Islands. Data were also collected on human activities, including commercial and recreational fishing, beach use, and boating activities. A regional snapshot of North Central Coast baseline monitoring is now accessible, along with final technical reports and data for each project, at (links below).

Data Integration and Synthesis

To enhance our understanding and management of the region’s ecosystems, California Ocean Science Trust, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Partnership for Interdisciplinary studies of Coastal Oceans are collaborating to explore ways to integrate data across baseline monitoring projects and with data from other programs in the region (e.g., Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System, California Seafloor Mapping Program). Working with this diverse array of academic, state, and non-profit researchers, we are examining the connections among ecosystems, for example, testing trophic connections between kelp forests and beach ecosystems, and mapping species distributions across depth ranges.

The integration and synthesis of these datasets will encourage continued discussions to maximize the utility of partnerships and datasets, and will lead to a variety of products, such as academic publications, a State of the Region Report, a special session at a conference, and additional reports and products that can help inform adaptive management of this MPA network. These projects will additionally leverage the data to support other mandates, such as fisheries management, and monitoring the impacts of ocean acidification, hypoxia, and other aspects of climate change.

Long-term Monitoring

Following a collaborative process with stakeholders and scientists, we completed the North Central Coast MPA Monitoring Plan, which was adopted by the California Fish and Game Commission on April 7, 2010. This monitoring plan will be updated as we near the 5-year management review for the MPAs to reflect results of North Central Coast baseline monitoring.

Additional Resources

  • A regional snapshot of North Central Coast baseline monitoring is available here, which shares project summaries of baseline MPA monitoring projects (2010-2013).
  • Data and technical reports for each of the 11 baseline program projects are available at
  • A map the North Central Coast MPAs and additional information, including boundaries and regulations, are available on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife North Central Coast Marine Protected Areas website.