Marine Protected Area Key Documents

The management of the Marine Protected Area Network is guided by several key documents that define the management goals of the Network and the roles and responsibilities of managing agencies and partners.

Marine Life Protection Act: The Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 directs the state to redesign California’s system of marine protected areas (MPAs) to function as a network in order to: increase coherence and effectiveness in protecting the state’s marine life and habitats, marine ecosystems, and marine natural heritage, as well as to improve recreational, educational and study opportunities provided by marine ecosystems subject to minimal human disturbance.

Marine Life Protection Act Master Plan: The Master Plan guides the implementation of a Marine Protected Area Management Program to improve the design and management of California’s marine protected areas (MPAs) to the extent possible, as a statewide network. The Fish and Game Commission approved the final draft of the Master Plan an August 2016, which will be posted soon.

California Collaborative Approach: MPA Partnership Plan: The MPA Statewide Leadership Team outlines a partnership-based approach to managing California’s MPA Network.

MPA Statewide Leadership Team Work Plan: The creation of the Work Plan was identified as a priority task  in the Partnership Plan, and is a key tool in directing and defining agency and stakeholder roles and responsibilities in the MPA Management Program:

The MPA Monitoring Action Plan: The MPA Monitoring Action Plan (Action Plan) addresses an important requirement to continue long-term monitoring to facilitate adaptive management of the MPA Network. The Action Plan informs next steps for long-term monitoring by compiling work to date, as well as incorporating novel, quantitative, and expert informed approaches. The Action Plan prioritizes key measures and metrics, habitats, sites, species, human uses, and management questions to target for long-term monitoring and aid in the evaluation of the Network in meeting the goals of the Marine Life Protection Act.

MPA Management Program  January 2016 Budget Report: The FY 2015/2016 Budget Act, under Item 0540-001-0001, appropriated $2.5 million dollars to “… be available for a contract or grant to support monitoring of marine protected areas.” Accompanying that appropriation was the  supplementary report language that required the CA Natural Resource Agency to submit no later than January 10, 2016, to the appropriate budget committees of each house a report on the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA)/MPA Managment Program. The report includes a full analysis of management costs, including ongoing funding sources, staffing, and department management designations.

Statewide MPA Monitoring Program Two-pager: Research and Monitoring is one of the four focal areas that comprise the MPA Management Program.  The Statewide MPA Monitoring Program is anchored by a framework the guides the monitoring of ecosystems and human uses.

Memorandum of Understanding for Implementation of the California Marine Life Protection Act: Legally formalizes the commitment to successful management of the MPA Network by the the state agencies that comprise the MPA Statewide Leadership Team.

Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Acceptance and Use of Interim Mitigation Funds for Once-Through Cooling Policy: MOU between OPC, California Coastal Conservancy, State Water Resources Control Board which grants the use of interim mitigation once-through cooling fees for projects related to the MPA Management Program.

Once-Through Cooling Mitigation Program-Policy and Science Framework Linking California’s Marine Protected Area Network to OTC Impacts: California’s Once-Through Cooling Policy (Policy) was adopted by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) in 2010 and amended in 2011, 2013, and 2016.1 The Policy establishes technology-based standards to implement federal Clean Water Act section 316(b) and reduce the harmful effects associated with cooling water intake structures on marine and estuarine life. The Policy requires power plants that are not in compliance by October 2015 to either perform or pay for mitigation activities to account for the negative impacts between October 2015 and the date of the plants’ full compliance with the Policy (interim mitigation). This document defines activities related to the management of California’s existing statewide MPA Network that could be supported with interim mitigation funds.

Monitoring California’s Coastal Biodiversity with Crowd-Sourced Citizen Science: Citizen science—the involvement of volunteers in the production of scientific knowledge—can generate biodiversity data at spatial, temporal, and taxonomic scales difficult to cover with any other approaches. This report summarizes the findings of an 18-month collaboration between the California Academy of Sciences (Academy), the California Ocean Protection Council, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife aimed at building the capacity to use crowd-sourced citizen science observations of coastal biodiversity in support of California’s Marine Protected Area (MPA) Monitoring Action Plan.

Evaluating California’s Marine Protected Area Network (June 2021): This report was released in parallel with the Climate Resilience and California’s MPA Network and is accompanied by a foreword placing the reports into the context of MPA management. Building on the foundation set forth in California’s MPA Monitoring Action Plan (Action Plan), an OPC-SAT working group was tasked with translating the goals of the MLPA into scientific questions and approaches, and refining Action Plan performance objectives to inform the first statewide evaluation of the MPA network. The report details (1) quantitative scientific questions (Appendix B of the Action Plan) that can be assessed at the 2022 management review and in future decadal evaluations; (2) scientific definitions of selected terms in the MLPA; (3) methods and approaches for answering network-wide evaluation questions and integrating various data streams; and (4) recommendations on monitoring approaches to fill gaps in our understanding of MPA performance in California.

Climate Resilience and California’s MPA Network (June 2021): This report was released in parallel with the Evaluating California’s Marine Protected Area Network and is accompanied by a foreword placing the reports into the context of MPA management. An OPC-SAT working group developed a scientific guidance document that details actionable recommendations to inform how California’s MPA network could be assessed and used as a tool to provide ecological and societal resilience to climate change. The report includes (1) a definition of climate resilience for California’s MPA network; (2) a description of the current scientific understanding of the mechanisms through which MPAs and MPA networks could provide climate resilience; (3) a list of quantifiable, tractable scientific questions and associated methods that could reasonably be used to assess the performance of California’s MPA network in the context of climate change; and (4) science, policy, and management recommendations to support a more climate-resilient MPA network.

MPA Monitoring Program Information Management System Implementation Plan

MPA Monitoring Program  Data and Metadata – January 2017

MPA Collaborative Network Memorandum of Understanding

MPA Collaborative and State of California Partnership Charge 2018

MPA Outreach and Education Improvement Project Resource Library

MPA Outreach and Education Project Webinar Slides

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Tidepooling is one of the best ways to explore California’s MPAs. Credit: Steve Lonhart