At the MPA Collaborative Network, we strive to elevate local community voices to the state level and to liaise what we hear from the state managing agencies back down to local stakeholders. A recent example of the success of this bottom-up, top-down collaboration was the coordinated outreach effort to educate and gain compliance of tidepool violations across the state.
From the crowded intertidal zone of Rancho Palos Verdes and White Point in Los Angeles, to Asilomar (Monterey), Pillar Point (San Mateo), and Duxbury Reef (Marin) in Central California, the COVID-19 pandemic has created the perfect storm for more visitation to the coasts and MPAs. Since tidepools are the most accessible marine habitat existing between land and sea, many locals and tourists visit often to explore nature, beachcomb, or collect sea life for a tasty dinner.
While people can enjoy the tidepools, as long as they follow MPA and Fish and Game regulations, Collaborative members and stakeholders have been concerned over increased impacts to tidepools due to record high visitation numbers since the pandemic. Many Collaboratives have been forging and strengthening their relationships with their local California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) Environmental Scientists and Law Enforcement Officers in response to these impacts. During the November King Tide, CDFW staff, Collaborative members, and local volunteers were stationed at Pillar Point to educate the public about MPA and Fish and Game Regulations (photos on right). A coordinated effort among grassroots volunteers and agency staff also occurred during the December King Tide event where newly developed tidepool and MPA education resources created by CDFW were shared with visitors. In Rancho Palos Verdes, CDFW staff have worked with local allied agency enforcement personnel to increase outreach and enforcement efforts in the delicate tidepool ecosystems. There are countless other examples of CDFW staff going above and beyond to address concerns brought up by stakeholders and we are so grateful for their continued support of bottom-up resource management.
Additionally, CDFW created a South Coast Tidepool Outreach flyer (2-pagers, see below), followed by a flyer specific to the Central and North Coast (below). The flyers include species imagery and intertidal take regulations for areas outside of MPAs. These intertidal take flyers were distributed among members of the MPA Collaborative Network and shared widely with the public by our many partners. View and download the materials here.
After taking time to reassess and establish COVID-safe protocols, many of our Collaboratives have been continuing their tidepool educator/docent programs during the pandemic, including the tidepool programs in Laguna Beach, MPA Watch statewide, and many other well established docent programs.
The MPA Collaborative Network is continuing to work collaboratively to address impacts to the intertidal in a culturally sensitive way by soliciting input and participation from the diverse communities visiting and enjoying this unique and dynamic ecosystem.
Photos courtesy of Chenchen Shen (CDFW).