Our Mission

MPA Collaborative Network COVID-19 Response

The health and wellbeing of all MPA Collaborative Network members and partners is of the utmost importance to us. Therefore, following CDC recommendations of social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Collaborative Network events will primarily be held using virtual video conference technology.

Our Vision

The vision of the MPA Collaborative Network is to encourage civic engagement in local resource management to ensure the health and sustainability of our natural and social environments.

Our Mission

The mission of the MPA Collaborative Network is to empower coastal communities to advance MPA management and encourage ocean stewardship.

Our Purpose

The purpose of the Collaborative Network is to create a cooperative process that encourages participation in decision-making and communication, grounded in the values of respect for differences and the interconnection between humans and nature.

Why the Collaborative Network?

California implemented a world-class system of 124 marine protected areas in 2012, created through a comprehensive stakeholder-led public process.

Collaborative Network Director Calla Allison saw a challenge moving forward: to ensure locals had a voice in the management of their MPAs.

Allison had served as a stakeholder creating South Coast MPAs, representing the Orange County Marine Protected Area Council – the first group organized to bring together area experts to collaboratively manage local MPAs. Seeing first hand the success of this model, Allison proposed replicating it on a county by county basis.

She began approaching local stakeholders to organize collaboratives in San Mateo, San Diego, and Santa Barbara in 2012, supported by the Natural Resources Agency and Department of Fish and Wildlife, and funded by Resources Legacy Fund.


Local stakeholders and MPA experts quickly planned meetings to identify existing resources and propose projects to increase local awareness of MPAs.

Based on the success of these groups, in 2013 Allison led the development of Collaboratives covering each of California’s coastal counties.

Fourteen collaboratives are now active along the coast, carrying out projects that answer local needs regarding MPAs.

What sets this model apart is the bottom-up, localized, and participatory approach to resource management. Rather than the state providing a structure for engagement, collaborative members develop it themselves. This leads to more buy-in and resource sharing from local organizations and allows state agencies to respond for requests for structure and input, rather than feeding it from the top-down.

Offering local partners an active voice in MPA management.

The goal of the MPA Collaborative Network is to engage experts in local MPA stewardship and management. We provide the information, structure, support, and inter-agency communication necessary to facilitate the creation of collaborative groups that are uniquely suited to local needs.

Collaboratives provide a forum for nonprofits, fishermen, tribal representatives, government staff, municipalities, academic institutions, scientists, teachers, and aquaria to work together to enhance understanding and compliance of MPAs.

Collaborative Network staff work to make it easier for local experts to partner with the state, strengthening connections and facilitating the flow of information between these local MPA professionals and managing agencies, and working closely with California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, State Parks, Ocean Protection Council and Ocean Science Trust.

Collaboratives are a key part of the Ocean Protection Council’s guiding principles for governing California’s MPA network, allowing the state to engage in meaningful partnerships at the local level, leverage resources, and ensure transparency.

The MPA Collaborative Network is fiscally sponsored by Resources Legacy Fund, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Highlights the Collaborative Network

CDFW’s Marine Protected Area Management Program provided an overview of the MPA Collaborative network in their February 2019 E-Newsletter. CDFW is highlighting each of the 14 Collaboratives in a special e-news series on the MPA Collaborative Network.

For more information on the MPA Collaborative Network and the MPA Management Program, visit our Resources page to find news and journal articles, blogs, and other key documents.

Thank You to Our Funders!

California Ocean Protection Council Logo