Results of monitoring marine-protected areas expected to become available

By: Parimal M. Rohit

The results of monitoring a section of marine protected areas (MPAs) along the Southern California coast are expected to become available at some point this year, months after the examination was completed.

Regional baseline monitoring for the Southern California MPA was officially completed in summer 2014. No official date was given for when the results would be made public.

“With the earlier MPA implementation in Southern California, baseline monitoring concluded in the summer of 2014, and the final technical reports documenting the baseline results will become available in 2015,” DFW stated on its blog last month.

The Log will keep track of when the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), which oversees the MPAs and conducted the monitoring, will publish the results.

According to DFW, Dec. 19, 2014 was the two-year anniversary of the statewide MPA network being in place. California mandated a system along its coastline in 1999 and implemented regional MPAs between 2007 and 2012.

Southern California’s MPA, which covers a stretch of Pacific Ocean from Point Conception to the California-Mexico border, was established Jan. 1, 2012.

The first MPA was established Sept. 27, 2007, between Point Conception and Pigeon Point.

DFW officials stated monitoring regional MPAs helps them determine how well – or poorly – the MPA network is performing.

“Regional baseline MPA monitoring and subsequent review of the associated baseline data [is] undertaken within the first five years after MPA implementation. Researchers and citizen science organizations carry out this initial monitoring, which can focus on a specific aspect of a region ranging from species populations, to particular habitats, to human usage,” DFW officials stated. “Monitoring results provides a regional ‘snapshot’ of local ecological and socioeconomic conditions, which can be used to evaluate how well the network is functioning. It can also provide a measure of the initial state, as well as early indications of whether conditions have changed during the baseline monitoring period, both inside and outside of the MPAs.”

The MPAs for both Northern and Southern California have yet to have their baseline monitoring results published.

California’s legislature passed the Marine Life Protection Act in 1999, which helped establish the current network of MPAs. By 2012, California was home to 119 new or redesigned MPAs, according to DFW.

In addition to the 119 MPAs, California has 15 special closures and five state marine recreational management areas.

Each area operates within one of five regional districts: Central (Pigeon Point to Point Conception); North Central (Pigeon Point to Point Arena); South (Point Conception to California-Mexico border); and, San Francisco Bay (waters within the bay, yet to be implemented).

“The San Francisco Bay is the fifth and final region covered under the Marine Life Protection Act,” DFW officials stated. “There is no established timeline yet for this region. MPA planning at San Francisco Bay will not be considered until restoration efforts are completed to improve ecosystems and water supply reliability in the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta/Bay Area.”

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