By Cyndi Dawson, OPC Marine Protected Areas Policy Advisor 

OPC has been busy through the spring making progress on supporting the effective management of our state MPA network. We continue to focus on finding innovative ways to help support the continued development of the Collaboratives and working with state agencies to improve their communication and collaboration internally and with on the ground partners. Here’s what we’ve been up to lately:

MPA State Leadership Team Expands
Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird convened a meeting of the expanded MPA Statewide Leadership Team (MSLT) on April 13th. The expansion of the membership reflects an improved understanding of the roles, processes and partners needed to successfully manage the statewide MPA network that were developed in the MPA Partnership Plan.

The MSLT is led by the Ocean Protection Council and includes the Department of Fish and Game, Fish and Game Commission, Department of Parks and Recreation, State Water Boards, State Lands Commission, Coastal Commission, Ocean Science Trust, and MPA Collaborative Implementation Project.  

A working group is currently developing a MSLT Work Plan to present to the OPC at its September meeting, where comments will be accepted. This work plan is an expansion of the document described in the Partnership Plan and will set out a prioritized road map agreed on by agency partners that will guide agency work for the next three years beginning in FY 15/16.  Collaborative members are encouraged to express their priorities to CIP staff so that they can be included in the document.  

South Coast Collaborative Forum 
OPC helped to host the first South Coast Collaborative Regional Forum in San Pedro on April 29th. We were excited to see such a wide range of attendees that contributed significantly to the discussions and panels. Please contact paul.hobi@resources.ca.gov if you’d like to join one of the four working groups that are following up on priority action items from the forum: 

  1. Reaching out to more diverse constituencies (especially recreational anglers)
  2. Identifying funding opportunities
  3. Coordinating web communications, and
  4. Facilitating communication between collaboratives as well as with state     agencies.  

OPC, MPA CIP and Resources Legacy Fund will be meeting in late June to review all the input from Collaborative members provided at the Statewide Forum in December 2014 and the Regional Forum in May. We will be developing a prioritized list of action items based on all the input that we are excited to begin work on this summer. Stay tuned for a report out on the results of that meeting.

Statewide Signage Project
Along with the California Marine Sanctuary Foundation (CMSF) and numerous on the ground partners, we made significant progress towards the completion of the Statewide Signage Project, which began in early 2014 with DFW funding granted to the CMSF by OPC.  Our partners on the ground played a key role in making this happen by developing locally specific content, identifying signage locations, and posting notices.

  • CMSF reports that harbor signs have been fabricated and delivered for installation.  Interpretive signs are in fabrication.  
  • The Coastal Commission recently approved Coastal Development Permit 9-15-0208 for the installation of 115 MPA regulatory and interpretive signs from Del Norte through San Luis Obispo County.  
  • OPC expects approval in mid July of an additional application covering the installation of the signs in southern California.  

Refugio Oil Spill
Agencies, researchers and citizen scientists have been working together to ensure that the unprecedented amount of data available in the area of the spill is being utilized during the Natural Resource Damage Assessment  (NRDA) which is currently taking place.

OPC is working daily with agency scientists conducting the NRDA to ensure their information requests are being met. Huge thanks to the many agencies, researchers and citizen scientists who have responded to our information requests and been active on the ground.

This tragic event is allowing us to show the true value of the data collection efforts and partnerships that have been built through our collective efforts around MPAs.

Meeting with National Marine Sanctuaries
On May 29th we co-hosted a meeting with the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) at the Sanctuary Exploration Center in Santa Cruz. In attendance were the superintendents from all four National Marine Sanctuaries in California and associated staff, ONMS West Regional Director Bill Doros, Deputy Secretary for Ocean and Coastal Policy Cat Kuhlman and myself. Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird opened the meeting with some inspiring words about partnerships and Assembly Member Mark Stone attend for the morning session.

We have created an action list focusing on better integrating state MPA work with Sanctuary efforts and have committed to holding these meetings biannually to continue to ensure we support this important and mutually beneficial relationship.

If you have any questions about the above, or any of OPC’s work, please feel free to get in touch with me at Cyndi.dawson@resources.ca.gov