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MPA Monitoring

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About the MPA Monitoring Program

The Marine Life Protection Act requires monitoring, research, and evaluation at selected sites to facilitate adaptive management of MPAs. Research and monitoring are essential to tracking conditions and trends of marine populations, habitats, and ecosystems in order to understand how they change over time. Research and monitoring are a key component to evaluating MPA design and effectiveness and making informed management decisions. 

To monitor California’s MPAs, CDFW, OPC, and the Fish and Game Commission collaboratively direct the MPA Monitoring Program. The program includes a two-phased, ecosystem-based approach: Baseline Monitoring and Long-Term Monitoring. 

The MPA Monitoring Program is organized into three core components for efficient implementation and useful results: Science, Communication, and Evaluation. MPA monitoring results, combined with additional sources of information, inform the State’s adaptive management process.  

link opens in new windowView all MPA monitoring data, technical reports, and synthesized products



Baseline Monitoring

Regional baseline monitoring established a comprehensive benchmark of ecological and socioeconomic conditions at or near the time of regional MPA implementation, and serves as an important set of data against which future conditions can be measured.

Administered by CDFW, OPC, California Ocean Science Trust, and California Sea Grant, and guided by regional MPA monitoring plans, baseline monitoring projects were funded across coastal ecosystem features. Baseline monitoring occurred from 2007 – 2018, and included 37 state-funded regional monitoring projects across the state. Data and results were described in technical reports for each funded project, summarized into a “State of the Region” report for each region, and informed an initial 5-year management review regarding regional MPA implementation.

Baseline Monitoring Reports by Region

Additional Reports by Region

North Coast North Central Coast Central Coast South Coast
North Coast State of the Region Supplemental Reports

link opens in new windowNorth Coast Fishery Spotlight: Dungeness Crab (PDF)

link opens in new windowNorth Coast Fishery Spotlight: Commercial Nearshore Finfish (PDF)

link opens in new windowMapping Catch Rates from the North Coast California Recreational Fisheries Survey (PDF)

link opens in new windowNorth Coast Remotely Operated Vehicle Surveys (PDF)

North Coast State of the Region Snapshot Reports

link opens in new windowMonitoring Life During a Series of Unusual Events (PDF)

link opens in new windowA Changing Undersea Forest (PDF)

link opens in new windowTaking Stock of North Coast Fishing Communities (PDF)

link opens in new windowExploring Where the River Meets the Sea (PDF)
North Central Coast State of the Region Supplemental Reports

link opens in new windowOutreach and Education

link opens in new windowEnforcement and Compliance

link opens in new windowRemotely Operated Vehicle Surveys

link opens in new windowCommercial and Recreational Fisheries
link opens in new windowCentral Coast Symposium Proceedings (PDF) South Coast State of the Region Supplemental Reports

link opens in new windowOutreach and Education in California’s South Coast Marine Protected Areas (PDF)

link opens in new windowScientific Collecting Permits in the South Coast Marine Protected Areas (PDF)

link opens in new windowEnforcement and Compliance within South Coast Marine Protected Areas (PDF)

link opens in new windowSouth Coast Marine Protected Areas Remotely Operated Vehicle Surveys (PDF)

link opens in new windowCommercial Fisheries in the South Coast’s Marine Protected Areas (PDF)

link opens in new windowThe South Coast’s Recreational Fisheries (PDF)

link opens in new windowSouth Coast Fishery Spotlight: Market Squid (PDF)

link opens in new windowSouth Coast Fishery Spotlight: California Spiny Lobster (PDF)


South Coast State of the Region Snapshot Reports

link opens in new windowKelp and Shallow Rock Ecosystems: Monitoring Life Under the Canopy (PDF)

link opens in new windowRocky Intertidal Ecosystems: Monitoring Life at the Interface (PDF)

link opens in new windowSubtidal Remotely Operated Vehicle Surveys: Monitoring Life in the Deep (PDF)

link opens in new windowSandy Beach Ecosystems: Monitoring the Secret Life of Beaches (PDF)

link opens in new windowSeabird Surveys: Monitoring Sentinels of the Sky (PDF)

link opens in new windowSpiny Lobster Populations: Monitoring Spiny Creatures of the Night (PDF)

Long-Term Monitoring

California is designing and implementing statewide long-term monitoring to reflect current priorities and management needs, and build on the knowledge, capacity, and unique considerations developed for each region during the MPA planning process and baseline monitoring, additional scientific studies, and other emerging scientific tools.

Beginning in 2016, funding for long-term has maintained or expanded the geographic scope of data collection in select ecosystems, maintained capacity of CDFW to collect data through equipment upgrades, expanded science-management collaborations, and supported the development of the Open Data Portal.

More recently, CDFW and OPC have developed a draft MPA Monitoring Action Plan. The MPA Monitoring Action Plan (anticipated for completion in Fall 2018) seeks to identify priority metrics, habitats, sites, and species for long-term monitoring to aid in the evaluation of the MPA Network’s progress towards meeting the goals of the Marine Life Protection Act.



Marine Region (Region 7)
Regional Manager: Dr. Craig Shuman
Main Office: 20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Suite 100, Monterey, CA  93940
AskMarine@wildlife.ca.gov  |  (831) 649-2870
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