MPA Decadal Management Review

CDFW presents Review to CFGC
Diver holds MPA banner in kelp forest
MPA outreach event
Researchers holding MPA banner on boat

California reviews its Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network every 10 years to inform the MPA Management Program.

About the MPA Decadal Management Review

Series of underwater images showing fish, kelp, and algaeThe first Decadal Management Review (Review) was released in January 2023 and serves as an update on the four pillars of the MPA Management Program:

  • Outreach and Education,
  • Research and Monitoring,
  • Enforcement and Compliance, and
  • Policy and Permitting

It includes corresponding evaluations of progress toward meeting the goals of the Marine Life Protection Act.

The California Fish and Game Commission received the Review at their February 2023 meeting (PDF) and will decide whether to direct CDFW and its partners to pursue recommendations and identified next steps.

California's Marine Protected Area Decadal Management Review, 2022

Image of MPA Decadal Management Review cover

The 2022 Decadal Management Review (Review) is the first comprehensive statewide review of California's Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network and Management Program. The Review provides a synthesis of the last decade of management activities in the four pillars of the MPA Management Program and the effectiveness of management in meeting the goals of the Marine Life Protection Act. The Review is informed by available sources of information about the MPA Network, including scientific assessments of ecological and human-focused data, shared perspectives and priorities from California Tribes, information from MPA management partners, MPA enforcement data, scientific collecting permit data, and input from the broader ocean community.

Informing the Decadal Management Review

The Review includes available sources of information about the MPA Network, including scientific assessments of ecological and socioeconomic data, MPA enforcement data, shared knowledge and data from California Tribes and Tribal Communities, and input from the broader ocean community.

Monitoring Data and Analysis

Researchers carry seine along sandy beach on a sunny dayThe Review considers multiple sources of monitoring data, including projects funded by the State and projects conducted by partner agencies and organizations.

Sources include:

  • Regional baseline monitoring - established a comprehensive benchmark of ecological and socioeconomic conditions at or near the time of regional MPA implementation (2007-2018), which serves as a point of comparison against which future conditions can be measured;
  • Statewide long-term monitoring - builds on the knowledge, capacity, and needs informed by baseline monitoring and continues data collection in prioritized ecosystems and human uses (final long-term monitoring reports available January 2022);
  • Network connectivity models - the Review will consider overall connectivity of the Network especially in terms of larval dispersal, as determined by advanced computer modeling techniques;
  • Citizen and Community Science - these projects have played a role in MPA monitoring since MPA implementation, and their inclusion in the Review will depend upon program design and overall quality of data collected.

View all MPA monitoring data, technical reports and synthesized products

Science Guidance

Rocky intertidal surf grass exposed by low tide on a clear sunny dayThe California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Ocean Protection Council, in partnership with the Ocean Science Trust, convened the following science advisory working groups to provide input on the Review.

Working group roles and products:

Tribal Involvement


Guided by CDFW's Tribal Communication and Consultation Policy (PDF), an initial letter detailing the Review expectations was sent out in May 2021 to all federally recognized California Tribes and Tribal contacts identified by the Native American Heritage Commission for the project review area. The letter contained contact information for Tribes to contact the CDFW MPA Management project to discuss concerns or further needs to request formal consultation.

Tribal Management and Indigenous Traditional Knowledge

CDFW recognizes the significant benefits of increased Tribal engagement in MPA management. California Tribes first received funding to conduct a monitoring project as part of north coast baseline monitoring, and more recently have been funded to build a statewide Tribal Marine Stewards Network (PDF), rooted in shared priorities between Tribes and the State. This project aims to significantly advance California's efforts to support indigenous stewardship and adopt meaningful co-management measures.

Decadal Management Review Forum

Recording of the Forum is Now Available!

Man stands at podium presenting to a large crowd of people

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), in partnership with the California Ocean Protection Council and the California Fish and Game Commission, hosted the MPA Day: Management Review Forum (Forum) in March 2023 to share the findings and recommendations, of the Decadal Management Review (Review).

What was the Forum?

Large group of people inside a building looking at various tables and posters full of displays

The Forum was an opportunity for CDFW, tribes, partner organizations, and the public to highlight their collaborative work over the last 10 years that informed the first comprehensive review (Review) of California’s MPA Network and Management Program. It also provided an opportunity for two-way conversations about the key findings and recommendations within the context of the MPA Management Program’s four pillars. All are encouraged to attend in person. For those unable to attend, remote non-interactive streaming was available on March 15 and a video recording is now available.

Forum Program

To learn more information about specific day of activities please view the Forum Program (PDF) which contains the agenda, information on panelists, and who tabled and presented posters.

Accommodation Requests

Persons with Disabilities needing reasonable accommodation to participate in this forum are invited to contact the Department’s Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Office at Accommodation requests for facility, meeting accessibility, American Sign Language interpreters, and/or real-time captioning should be submitted at least 5 days in advance of the forum. These timeframes are to help ensure that the requested accommodation is met. If a request for an accommodation has been submitted but is no longer needed, please contact the EEO Office immediately to cancel the request.

Other Questions?

For all other inquiries regarding the Forum, please contact CDFW through this contact form.

Opportunities for Public Participation

man raises hand in audience

Sign-up to CDFW's mailing list and the California Ocean Protection Council's mailing list to receive future updates.

For questions and/or comments about the Review or MPAs in general please contact the MPA Decadal Management Review team.

Post-Review opportunities: In March 2023, the Marine Resources Committee (PDF) received comments from tribal citizens and the public, and reflected on the Review and adaptive management recommendations. The Fish and Game Commission began considering which adaptive management recommendations in the Review and from the public to prioritize for the next adaptive management review cycle at their April meeting.


Upcoming Events

  • TBD

Past Events

Frequently Asked Questions

Group of more than 10 people stand together in front of marine protected area signsBelow you will find answers to some popular questions regarding the Review. You can also contact the MPA Decadal Management Review Team with any additional questions not addressed here:

When did the first Review occur?

The first Review (PDF) was released in January 2023 and concluded in February 2023 when the California Department of Fish and Wildlife presented findings and recommendations for the Review (PDF) to the California Fish and Game Commission.

Why is the Review set to occur every 10 years?

The 2016 Master Plan for MPAs requires the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to conduct a Review of the MPA Network every 10 years to inform the adaptive management process at the core of the MPA Management Program. Based on the best available science and lessons learned during regional MPA implementation, this 10-year review cycle was determined to be more biologically appropriate and administratively sustainable than the 5-year review cycle recommended by the 2008 Master Plan.

If it is a decadal review, does that mean decisions are made about the Network only every ten years?

No, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife continuously reviews and manages the Network adaptively in response to ecological and human needs and, as outlined in the 2016 Master Plan (PDF), recommendations for changes can be made at any time. However, comprehensive formal management reviews only occur every ten years. This allows for an administratively feasible evaluation that accounts for the timeframe of ecological processes in California’s colder temperate waters. For an overview of adaptive management actions completed to date, please see Appendix G (PDF) of the Review. If you would like to stay up to date on MPA management activities and receive notification about opportunities to provide input, subscribe to the Marine Region News Service.

What does the Review entail?

The Review focuses on the four pillars of the MPA Management Program - Outreach & Education, Research & Monitoring, Enforcement & Compliance, and Policy & Permitting - and corresponding evaluations of progress towards the goals of the MLPA. The Review considers all available sources of information about the MPA Network, including scientific assessments of ecological and socioeconomic monitoring results, MPA enforcement data, shared knowledge and data from California Tribes and Tribal Communities, and input from the broader ocean community.

How can I stay up to date on MPA Management Activities related to the Review?

What is the Review Steering Committee?

The MPA 2022 Outreach and Engagement Stakeholder Steering Committee (Steering Committee) is an informal advisory group established in June 2021 to help inform and support the design and implementation of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the California Ocean Protection Council's public outreach efforts related to the Review. 

ROLE and PURPOSE: As defined in their charter (PDF), the Steering Committee informs the agencies' outreach plan and timeline, the design of communication materials and engagement events, and helps identify communications channels, strategies, target audiences, known barriers, and other communication considerations. Steering Committee members also act as "key communicators" by sharing information about the Review with their existing networks and communities as appropriate. The Steering Committee will not be directly commenting on or informing the Review, although members may participate in the same process as the public.

MEMBER SELECTION: The Steering Committee was designed to include balanced representation across a range of audiences, perspectives, and regions, while keeping the group to a manageable size. Steering Committee members were chosen based on their are of MPA-related expertise, existing connection to a broader community or network, and capacity for meaningful participation. The 17-member Steering Committee includes perspectives from: state agencies, Tribal governments and communities, MPA collaboratives, environmental non-governmental organizations, resource managers, academic researchers and scientists, commercial and recreational fishermen, and non-consumptive divers.

What were the outcomes of the Review?

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife released a final Review report (PDF) January 2023, and presented it to the California Fish and Game Commission (CFGC) in February 2023. This informational presentation (PDF) was not an adoption hearing, and the CFGC did not take any immediate formal action at this meeting.

The Review final report and associated presentations is publicly available, and contains the following components:

  • An assessment of the MPA Network's progress toward MLPA goals;
  • A summary of knowledge gaps and opportunities for next steps;
  • A framework for translating performance evaluation results and knowledge gaps into management recommendations;
  • Specific adaptive management recommendations and next steps, framed within the four pillars of the MPA Management Program;
  • A summary of actions taken to engage Tribes and the ocean community and feedback received leading up to and during the Review, as well as future steps to follow up on feedback.

Will any significant changes to California's MPAs result from the Review?

It is too soon to say whether any significant changes will occur, and any changes will be at the discretion of the California Fish and Game Commission (CFGC). The CFGC will consider the content, findings, and recommendations presented in the Review and will decide whether to direct the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and implementation partners to pursue recommendations or next steps identified in the Review. Adaptive management recommendations presented in the Review will be informed by performance evaluation questions and metrics, Tribal input, and stakeholder input, and could include updates to objectives, management measures, enforcement efforts, and scientific guidelines to inform management decisions.

If MPAs are working, are we going to get rid of them?

The Marine Life Protection Act mandates that California manage a network of MPAs. This means that any decision the State makes about changing individual MPAs must consider how that will affect the functioning of the Network as a whole. Furthermore, the purpose of MPAs is long-term conservation. Even though some MPAs are demonstrating an increased abundance of fish species that are often targeted by fishermen and other benefits, these changes do not mean that MPAs are no longer needed. Though the MPA Network has been in place for only ten years, we are still in the early stages of exploring the many benefits provided by MPA designation. Furthermore, the ability to detect the effects of MPA protection is expected to increase over time for many of California’s long-lived marine species. From the human dimension, investigations of who is using MPAs and how they use them are needed, as well as ensuring equitable access to MPAs for everyone.

Why are there two sets of recommendations in the Review? Some of the recommendations seem contradictory.

There is one list of recommendations (Table 6.1 (PDF)) in the main body of the report and another list in Appendix A (PDF). Table 6.1 contains the recommendations that CDFW has prioritized for the next ten years of MPA management. This priority list was informed by the broader list in Appendix A. To track feedback and display a level of commitment to an inclusive process, Appendix A captures all recommendations. Table 6.1 recommendations may conflict with those in Appendix A; however, by including both lists, CDFW ensures that everyone’s perspectives have been captured and considered

Who makes the determination on which Review recommendations are tackled first? Will the California Fish and Game Commission vote on them?

A vote is not currently expected. The California Fish and Game Commission (CFGC) will continue to discuss the recommendations put forth by CDFW in the Review, especially those with a regulatory aspect, and will suggest a path forward for CDFW to consider. Comments to the CFGC are always welcome and people will have opportunities to provide comments on the recommendations and their prioritization before any decisions are made 

With regards to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, does CDFW’s definition of underrepresented groups include fishermen?

CDFW considers the fishing community in the broadest sense including recreational, subsistence, and commercial users. While some fishermen belong to historically marginalized groups, CDFW recognizes that many other marginalized groups have not felt welcome and are therefore not currently represented as part of the broader fishing community. Going forward, CDFW commits to meaningful engagement with a diverse suite of stakeholders, California Native American Tribes, and the broader fishing community in MPA management.

Where can I learn about long-term monitoring projects?

The first outcomes from long-term monitoring of California’s Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network are available online in seven technical reports. Additionally, in the summer of 2022 an 8-part virtual webinar series was hosted by the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) in partnership with CDFW to provide attendees the opportunity to interact directly with researchers involved in these long-term MPA monitoring projects. Archived videos and meeting summaries are available through OPC's "Ask the Researcher" landing page.

Additional MPA Monitoring Information:

Baseline monitoring was conducted from 2007 through 2018, around the time of MPA implementation in each of four planning regions along the coast. These studies were conducted to establish a benchmark for future studies to be compared with. Subsequently, long-term monitoring began in 2019 as a statewide effort. The first round of monitoring projects were completed at the end of 2021, and the technical reports are now publicly available.

Long-term monitoring projects were awarded to research groups through a competitive grant process funded by OPC and administered by California Sea Grant. Researchers from 24 universities, agencies, and institutions across California worked closely with CDFW and OPC to ensure alignment with MPA Management Program goals and the framework established in the MPA Monitoring Action Plan. Results from these reports, along with information from other sources, will inform California’ MPA Decadal Management Review report to the California Fish and Game Commission in February 2023.

Do MPAs cover only nine percent of state waters?

Actually, 16.3 percent of state waters are protected in the MPA Network, which includes marine managed areas and special closures, as well. Nine percent of state waters are classified as state marine reserves, which prohibit all take of marine resources; the remaining 7.3 percent is designated under other classifications, such as state marine conservation areas, which may allow limited take of marine resources while still offering protection for some species.

How is the Review related to the 30x30 Initiative?

Program Partners Roles and Responsibilities

As the lead managing agency for the California MPA Network the Department of Fish and Wildlife implements and enforces the regulations set by the California Fish and Game Commission, and works across all four focal areas of the MPA Management Program.

The California Fish and Game Commission is the primary decision-making authority for California’s MPA regulations and adopted the MPA Management Program and Master Plan for MPAs.

More information on the California Fish and Game Commission.

California Ocean Protection Council Logo

The Ocean Protection Council is the policy lead for California’s MPAs.

More information on the Ocean Protection Council.

The MPA Statewide Leadership Team (convened by the Ocean Protection Council in 2014) helps guide program activities and ensures communication, collaboration, and coordination among entities that have significant authority, mandates, or interests that relate to California’s MPA Network.

More Information on the MPA Statewide Leadership Team.


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