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Strategic Plan
Board of Directors Summary

1. Mission Statement

The mission of the California Marine Sanctuary Foundation is to advance the understanding and protection of the Monterey Bay and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuaries and other coastal and ocean resources in California.

The California Marine Sanctuary Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization serving a valuable “niche” in the regional nonprofit community. Established in 1995, it is a good example of the merit of collaboration between public agencies and private organizations. The Foundation focuses its efforts on education, research and resource protection initiatives for conserving and protecting the extraordinary environment and resources of the marine sanctuaries in central and southern California, coastal and undersea equivalents to our nation’s parks, forests and wilderness areas.

Over the past few years the Foundation has expanded its reach to include support for a California initiative creating a statewide network of marine protected areas. Those complement and augment federal marine protected areas such as national marine sanctuaries and national estuaries. Additionally, the organization has begun expansion of its operations in southern California doing business as (dba) the Channel Islands Sanctuary Foundation.
2. Vital Few Objectives; Areas of Focus 2011-2016

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary


Ecosystem-based management

  • Our coastal and marine environments are changing and face many threats. Ecosystem-based management, considering entire ecosystems rather than managing single issues or resources, is an innovative approach integrating ecological, social and economic factors. Efforts in this area link to the National Ocean Policy as well as the California’s Ocean Protection Council strategic action plan (2012-2017.)


Water quality

  • Significant energy and focus is applied to addressing the land-sea connections impacting coastal water quality. Integrated regional water management programs, citizen watershed monitoring programs and collaborations with the agricultural community, cities and local municipalities are all components of this strategic priority. The programs are widely acclaimed as a great working example of the value of collective agency, nonprofit and citizen action. Our relationships include the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service, County Farm Bureaus and Resource Conservation Districts, the State Coastal Conservancy, the State Water Resources Control Board, the California Department of Water Resources and many others.

Science-based monitoring and reporting (www.SanctuarySIMoN.org)

  • Monitoring and reporting on the health of the ocean ecosystem, communicating the outcomes of research and science activities from many organizations to resource managers, policy makers, academia and the general public. The Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network (SIMoN) is a National Marine Sanctuary Program model for comparable efforts elsewhere, including the Gulf of the Farallones, Cordell Banks and Channel Islands sanctuaries. SIMoN’s database resources and communication methods have also been used as the model for the national ocean observing system established over the past five years.


Education and outreach with an emphasis on the recently designated state marine protected areas and the new Santa Cruz Sanctuary Exploration Center

  • Since 2007, the Foundation has coordinated an education and outreach program about the twenty-nine central coast marine protected areas created as part of the State of California Marine Life Protection Act. Beginning in 2012, the organization will collaborate on the opening and operations of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s Exploration Center in Santa Cruz, CA, cultivating a new generation of ocean stewards.

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary


Marine protected areas

  • From 2003 through 2007, the state of California and the National Marine Sanctuary Program established thirteen marine reserves and conservation areas around the four northern Channel Islands and Santa Barbara Island. Long-term monitoring, enforcement, education and outreach related to those MPAs is helping to inform activities elsewhere. Beginning in 2012, thirty-seven new marine protected areas are being implemented in southern California, from Point Conception to the Mexico border.

    The Foundation will focus primarily on support for the thirteen Channel Islands marine protected areas and sanctuary while providing guidance and fiscal sponsorship services, as needed, for the other newly designated MPAs.


Education and outreach with an emphasis on the Outreach Center for Teaching Ocean Science

  • The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, in collaboration with the Marine Science Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara, are establishing a science and technology center designed to immerse participants (K-12) in the process of marine science and its application to ocean conservation. The center (OCTOS) will utilize UCSB’s undergraduate science and education students as mentors and instructors and is slated to open in 2013.


California’s Network of Marine Protected Areas


California is engaged in a historic effort to create a science-based, statewide network of MPAs, as part of the Marine Life Protection Act. As of January 2012, over one hundred state marine reserves, parks and conservation areas have been created or expanded. A Memorandum of Understanding has been established for the Foundation’s partnerships with California’s State Parks and Department of Fish and Wildlife to extend and enhance the public education and outreach efforts related to the initiative.

Major programmatic initiatives:

  • Central coast education and outreach (Point Conception to Pigeon Point)

  • North-central coast education and outreach (pigeon Point to Point Arena)

  • Statewide assistance and fiscal sponsorship

Our efforts are designed around two primary objectives:

  • Create a greater awareness of and support for the MPAs in the general public

  • Develop an enhanced capacity for sustained education and outreach within governmental and non-governmental organizations, that will provide “best practices” for MLPA implementation processes statewide.
  D. Partnerships and Fiscal Sponsorship

Fiscal sponsorship is a valuable “niche” service to augment federal and state agency budgets and aid in the implementation of their programs. If a program is consistent with the MBSF mission, and funding is in-place or will be secured, the organization will consider serving as a sponsor and handling the fund administration and related aspects of the project. Unlike other areas of focus, MBSF incremental, discretionary fund investments in these programs is limited. Sponsorship agreements support a variety of organizations including:

  • Bureau of Land Management, California Coastal National Monument

  • California Coastal Commission

  • National Marine Fisheries Service

  • National Marine Protected Areas Center

  • Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary

  • California State Parks and Department of Fish and Wildlife

  • Others as identified from time-to-time for enhanced public/private partnerships
  E. Operational Development
    Now, perhaps more than ever, the role of the Foundation in addressing the issues facing California’s ocean and coast is critical. Building organization capacity, and ensuring that growth does not dilute the impact of the Foundation, is an important strategic and operational challenge. The single most important element in future decision making is to focus on the vital few objectives and not get distracted by other compelling objectives. Those decisions, coupled with key collaborative relationships, are essential to further the mission of the Foundation and to advance the understanding and protection of the Monterey Bay and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuaries and other coastal and ocean resources in California.

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