MPA Monitoring


About the MPA Monitoring Program

The Marine Life Protection Act requires monitoring, research, and evaluation at selected sites to facilitate adaptive management of MPAs. Research and monitoring are essential to tracking conditions and trends of marine populations, habitats, and ecosystems in order to understand how they change over time. Research and monitoring are a key component to evaluating MPA design and effectiveness and making informed management decisions.

To monitor California’s MPAs, CDFW, OPC, and the Fish and Game Commission collaboratively direct the MPA Monitoring Program. The program includes a two-phased, ecosystem-based approach: Baseline Monitoring and Long-Term Monitoring. Baseline Monitoring occurred from 2007-2018, and current Long-Term Monitoring projects are funded from 2019-2022.

The MPA Monitoring Program is organized into three core components for efficient implementation and useful results: Science, Communication, and Evaluation. MPA monitoring results, combined with additional sources of information, inform the State’s adaptive management process.

View all MPA monitoring data, technical reports, and synthesized products(opens in new tab)

Baseline Monitoring

Regional baseline monitoring established a comprehensive benchmark of ecological and socioeconomic conditions at or near the time of regional MPA implementation, and serves as an important set of data against which future conditions can be measured.

Administered by CDFW, OPC, California Ocean Science Trust, and California Sea Grant, and guided by regional MPA monitoring plans, baseline monitoring projects were funded across coastal ecosystem features. Baseline monitoring occurred from 2007 – 2018, and included 37 state-funded regional monitoring projects across the state. Data and results were described in technical reports for each funded project, summarized into a “State of the Region” report for each region, and informed an initial 5-year management review regarding regional MPA implementation.

State of the Region Reports by Region

Monitoring Plans by Region

Additional Reports by Region

North Coast North Central Coast Central Coast South Coast
North Coast State of the Region Supplemental Reports

North Coast Fishery Spotlight: Dungeness Crab (PDF)

North Coast Fishery Spotlight: Commercial Nearshore Finfish (PDF)

Mapping Catch Rates from the North Coast California Recreational Fisheries Survey (PDF)

North Coast Remotely Operated Vehicle Surveys (PDF)

North Coast State of the Region Snapshot Reports

Monitoring Life During a Series of Unusual Events (PDF)

A Changing Undersea Forest (PDF)

Taking Stock of North Coast Fishing Communities (PDF)

Exploring Where the River Meets the Sea (PDF)
North Central Coast State of the Region Supplemental Reports

Outreach and Education (PDF)

Enforcement and Compliance (PDF)

Remotely Operated Vehicle Surveys (PDF)

Commercial and Recreational Fisheries (PDF)
Central Coast Symposium Proceedings (PDF) South Coast State of the Region Supplemental Reports

Outreach and Education in California’s South Coast Marine Protected Areas (PDF)

Scientific Collecting Permits in the South Coast Marine Protected Areas (PDF)

Enforcement and Compliance within South Coast Marine Protected Areas (PDF)

South Coast Marine Protected Areas Remotely Operated Vehicle Surveys (PDF)

Commercial Fisheries in the South Coast’s Marine Protected Areas (PDF)

The South Coast’s Recreational Fisheries (PDF)

South Coast Fishery Spotlight: Market Squid (PDF)

South Coast Fishery Spotlight: California Spiny Lobster (PDF)

South Coast State of the Region Snapshot Reports

Kelp and Shallow Rock Ecosystems: Monitoring Life Under the Canopy (PDF)

Rocky Intertidal Ecosystems: Monitoring Life at the Interface (PDF)

Subtidal Remotely Operated Vehicle Surveys: Monitoring Life in the Deep (PDF)

Sandy Beach Ecosystems: Monitoring the Secret Life of Beaches (PDF)

Seabird Surveys: Monitoring Sentinels of the Sky (PDF)

Spiny Lobster Populations: Monitoring Spiny Creatures of the Night (PDF)

Long-Term Monitoring

California is designing and implementing statewide long-term monitoring to reflect current priorities and management needs, and build on the knowledge, capacity, and unique considerations developed for each region during the MPA planning process and baseline monitoring, additional scientific studies, and other emerging scientific tools.

Beginning in 2016, funding for long-term has maintained or expanded the geographic scope of data collection in select ecosystems, maintained capacity of CDFW to collect data through equipment upgrades, expanded science-management collaborations, and supported the development of the Open Data Portal.

In 2018, CDFW and OPC developed the MPA Monitoring Action Plan (Action Plan) to inform next steps for long-term monitoring. 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 MPA Network in meeting the goals of the Marine Life Protection Act.

In 2019, OPC, with CDFW input, funded seven statewide Long-Term Monitoring projects (PDF) that reflect Action Plan priorities. OPC partnered with California Sea Grant to administer these awards and announce the funded projects. The final long-term MPA monitoring reports were made available in January 2022.

Later in 2019 and 2020, several additional projects were added to the Long-Term Monitoring portfolio: the Estuary Monitoring Program (PDF), the Network Connectivity Model (PDF), and the Tribal Stewards Pilot Program (PDF).

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