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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.