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Marine Protected Areas

In Support of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

The California Marine Sanctuary Foundation (CMSF) serves a crucial niche for California’s MPAs. Beginning in 2007, the CMSF launched the MPA Education and Outreach Initiative, designed to augment and complement the California Natural Resource Agency efforts to make the public more aware of California’s newly designated network of MPAs. Through the Initiative, CMSF closely collaborates with government agencies (e.g. California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California State Parks, National Marine Sanctuaries, National Estuaries, etc.), and various conservation and education organizations (e.g. Ocean Conservancy, Monterey Bay Aquarium, NRDC, Heal the Bay, WiLDCOAST, etc.).

The Initiative has played a crucial leadership role in support of California’s MPAs. Our accomplishments, in partnership with a multitude of “on the ground” organizations and federal and state agencies have received wide acclaim:

  1. Building a consortium of collaborative MPA partners, initially on the central coast, and now across the state;

  2. Developing basic MPA products such as interpretive panels and exhibits, harbor signage, print publications, films and videos that serve as templates for export;

  3. Creating sustainable MPA training programs that leverage existing resources and serve as models for statewide implementation.

We have selected projects that advance enduring stewardship of California’s MPAs, leverage existing resources, and empower the MPA constituency. MPA programs and products have been successfully deployed more quickly and cost-effectively utilizing our templates and approaches and momentum continues to expand as our clearinghouse of resources is shared across the state.

California Leading the Nation

California is the first state in the nation to establish a network of MPAs – similar to national parks, forests and wilderness areas on land – to protect and restore ocean habitats and increase the health, productivity and resilience of ocean ecosystems. Under the Marine Life Protection Act, passed in 1999, California took a regional approach to the design and implementation of MPAs along its coast and divided the state into four coastal regions. The network was completed in 2012 and created over 120 underwater refuges along the California coast. CMSF is providing critical support in the implementation of the MLPA.

CMSF MPA Education and Outreach Initiative

The MPA Education and Outreach Initiative has created a variety of educational products to connect the public to MPAs in tangible, personal ways. It is anticipated that through better understanding, the public will gain an appreciation for the incredible beauty and wealth of marine resources along our coast, generating increased awareness and support for the statewide network of MPAs.

Many of the products and programs developed by the MPA Education and Outreach Initiative are available for viewing and download at the California MPA Educational Resources (www.CaliforniaMPAs.org) website. Below are examples of some of the many useful resources that can be used when communicating to a variety of audiences.

A suite of MPA products and programs are available, including:

  1. Print Publications such as MPA brochures, fact sheets, and maps.

  2. MPA Exhibits and Posters for use in museums, visitor centers, community forums and events.

  3. MPA Interpretive Panels, and Regulatory and Harbor Signs installed at various coastal locations near MPAs.

  4. Numerous Films and Videos, including some that portray the beauty of these underwater parks as well as others that delve into the intricate process of establishing the statewide network.

  5. A series of PowerPoint Presentations from numerous MPA Trainings that provide interpretive education and reference resources for docents, naturalists, and interpretive staff along the California coast.

  6. Unique resources including a Google MPA Tour of the statewide network and fun ways to engage younger audiences in MPAs.

  7. A monthly MPA Newsletter to disseminate recent news, new programs and products, upcoming events, and best practices for informing the public about MPAs to MPA interpreters, staff and interested parties.

  8. A Facebook community to promote communication and resource sharing among various MPAs.

California Statewide MPA Signage Grant Award

The California Marine Sanctuary Foundation was awarded a grant by the Ocean Protection Council to facilitate the design, production and installation of interpretive and regulatory MPA signs throughout the MPA network along all coastal regions in California. The locations of all existing signs installed along the California coast will be inventoried including those installed by other agencies such as the federal Bureau of Land Management, State Parks and County Parks. In total, approximately 195 new MPA signs will be produced and installed in collaboration with local, state and federal partners to fill priority gaps in interpretive and regulatory needs.

California Regional MPA Implementation Grant Award

The California Marine Sanctuary Foundation is continuing to expand MPA work statewide with the award of the Regional Implementation grant by the Ocean Protection Council. The MBSF will build upon its existing strategies and approaches to support OPC to: 1) address near term implementation needs at the local level, through a series of projects that will lay the groundwork for implementation moving forward; 2) develop a framework for regional engagement where local and statewide MPA implementation objectives will be discussed; and 3) facilitate ongoing coordination among key MPA implementation partners, including state agencies and key non-governmental partners. This will be accomplished through engaging diverse MPA stakeholders, including NGOs, stakeholders, private sector groups, tribes, ocean users and MPA Community Collaboratives, and provide their external perspectives to inform the statewide MPA Partnership Plan and development of Regional Forums.

Scientific Research & Monitoring (SIMoN)
Water Quality
Sanctuary Exploration Center
Marine Protected Areas and the California Marine Life Protection Act

What are MPAs?

Marine protected areas (MPAs) work much like our national parks and forests, with the size and level of protection varying with the goals of each area. Some restrict fishing or actually ban it entirely, while others allow all sorts of activities, such as fishing and recreation, to occur. Rather than focusing on a single species they protect the entire ecosystem (from small plankton to migrating grey whales),.. Marine protected areas are a powerful tool for restoring depleted fisheries including rockfishes, halibut, abalone and crabs. With healthy oceans, other species such as salmon, dolphins, harbor seals, and sea otters can thrive. In many places, protecting the ocean’s bounty has actually helped to stimulate local economies, providing much needed jobs and revenue. Around the world, MPAs are being heralded as an important tool for healthier, more resilient ocean ecosystems. Those underwater oases are then better able to withstand a wide range of impacts, from pollution to climate
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All materials presented on this site are Copyright 2014 by the California Marine Sanctuary Foundation or other organizations and agencies where noted. Resources may be used for non-commercial purposes. For commercial use please contact us. All photographs on this site have all copyrights reserved by the photographer and written permission must be given for other uses.