OCEANSIDE — Department of Fish and Wildlife staff provided its first-ever update on California’s Marine Protected Areas update during the Fish and Game Commission’s December 2018 meetings in Oceanside. The commission in 2016 directed DFW staff to provide annual MPA reports to the quasi-judicial agency. DFW staff will again provide an MPA report to commissioners toward the end of this year.
Amanda Van Diggelen, an environmental scientist with DFW, stated California’s MPA Management Program is organized into four categories: outreach and education; research and monitoring; enforcement and compliance; and, policy and permitting.
“The MPA Management Program guides the management of the statewide network of marine protected areas,” Van Diggelen told commissioners during her Dec. 11, 2018 presentation on California’s MPAs.
Van Diggelen added the MPA Management Program is designed to ensure the MPA network is adaptively managed. Highlights of the management program, according to Van Diggelen, are statewide long-term monitoring of priority habitats (i.e. kelp forests and rocky intertidals) and working with the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The association between DFW staff and IUCN is part of a larger play to achieve global protected area management standards, according to Van Diggelen. Working with IUCN, Van Diggelen said, could allow California’s MPA network to be the first-ever listed on the union’s Green List Program. The program determines whether an MPA network meets certain global standards.
DFW has also added more than 500 interpretive and regulatory signs in and around California’s MPAs, Van Diggelen added. More than 15,000 students, just the same, participated in DFW’s Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students (PORTS) since 2014.
The department will continue to perform long-term statewide monitoring of the MPA network, starting as early as May of this year. Monitoring will be guided by the MPA Monitoring Action Plan.
More than 11,000 MPA-related contacts were made between January and June 2018, Van Diggelen continued. She said 396 of those contacts were made for enforcement issues. Most of those enforcement contacts – 222 of them, to be exact – involved actual citations.
The MPA statewide leadership team is lead by DFW and the Fish and Game Commission. Other members of the leadership team are California Water Boards, Ocean Protection Council, National Park Service, California Coastal Commission, California Ocean Science Trust, MPA Collaborative Network, National Marine Sanctuaries – West Coast Region, California State Parks, State Lands Commission, Resources Legacy Fund and regional tribal representation.
A 10-year management review will take place in 2022.