Recognizing the importance of California’s diverse marine species and ecosystems as vital to the state’s coastal economy, public well-being, and ecological health, the California Legislature passed the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) in 1999. The MLPA required the state to redesign its pre-existing system of MPAs to function as a statewide network. The MLPA also required the adoption of the Master Plan for Marine Protected Areas (Master Plan), which established the MPA Management Program (called the Marine Life Protection Program in the Master Plan). A core component of the Management Program is the Statewide MPA Monitoring Program, which takes a two-phased approach. Phase 1, baseline monitoring, concluded in early 2018, and the state is currently designing and implementing Phase 2, long-term monitoring.
The MPA Monitoring Action Plan (Action Plan) addresses an important MLPA 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 MLPA.