Fish and Game Commission adopts MPA monitoring action plan

FRESNO — The California Fish and Game Commission formally adopted its Statewide Marine Protection Area Monitoring Action Plan at its Oct. 17 meeting in Fresno. Establishing a statewide action plan to monitor California’s Marine Protected Areas, or MPAs, would observe, analyze and evaluate how the conservation tool is working. Determinations, accordingly, could be made on how to better manage MPAs.

The action plan would be executed through collaboration between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), Ocean Protection council and various academic partners.

“The commission adopted a marine protected area monitoring action plan that, for the first time, provides a statewide approach to monitoring California’s marine protected area network. The action plan incorporates novel scientific approaches and offers important prioritization of long-term monitoring and evaluation metrics,” an entry in the Fish and Game Commission’s Oct. 17 meeting summary stated about the action plan adoption.

Funding for this plan is secure for the near future, according to DFW staff. The agency also hopes to take advantage of its various partnerships to bring certain initiatives online.

Executing the action plan calls for the collection and management of data, maintenance of scientific tools, research and development, sharing results with an engaged community, and evaluation of the network’s performance.

“The … ‘Marine Protected Area Monitoring Action Plan’ ties together work to date; incorporates novel, quantitative and expert-informed scientific approaches; and offers prioritization of metrics, habitats, sites, and species to target for long-term monitoring and evaluation of California’s MPA network,” a Fish and Game Commission staff report stated about the action plan.

State officials established an MPA network along California’s coast as part of an effort to protect marine life, habitats and ecosystems. The network includes 124 MPAs and 15 special closures.

“The Action Plan also provides lists of species and species groups to target for long-term monitoring, and highlights examples of existing programs that can contribute to long-term monitoring in California,” an executive summary of the action plan said.

DFW and commission staff said the action plan is a living document, meaning it would be updated and adapted as new information is presented and verified.

Commissioner Russell Burns was not present at the Oct. 17 commission meeting.

All commissioners present voted in favor of the action plan.

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