Central Coast Forum Brings Together 100+ Ocean Experts to Discuss Marine Protected Areas

On October 27th, the MPA Collaborative Network convened leading ocean experts to discuss Central Coast MPAs at Asilomar Lodge.

Resources Secretary John Laird delivered remarks to the delegates, announcing that nearly $300,000 of new grant funding has been approved by Ocean Protection Council to fund collaborative projects and create a statewide charter.

The Monterey Herald took note, indicating the challenge that lies ahead:

Laird went on to recall a recent incident when he was asked by a group of environmental journalists what the greatest unreported stories were. Laird said he replied “It’s our marine protected areas.”

“I don’t think other people understand how big it is and what we’ve done,” Laird said in his address to the forum. “And so that’s where we are. How do we make people realize?”

Numerous panel and group discussions sought to address just that: how do we make people aware of our state’s MPAs?

Panelists representing citizen science, business outreach, policy and enforcement agencies all identified a similar theme: how to work locally to increase community awareness of marine protected areas.

Each issue area presents a different challenge for local experts, but in many cases they can learn from each other’s experience, and work together to tackle common problems.

One example, the recent creation of the SeaLife Stewards program in Morro Bay that uses kayaks to offer on-the-water education on wildlife disturbance was inspired by a similar, longstanding program in Monterey Bay: Team OCEAN.

Another, perhaps more pertinent example for attendees was the MPA IPA brewed by New Bohemian Brewing Company in Santa Cruz especially for the occasion.  This follows in the footsteps of the Humboldt Collaborative’s successful efforts to inspire Six Rivers Brewing to create the first MPA IPA.

That is what the MPA Collaborative Network is all about: fostering these productive partnerships between collaborative members.

For full notes from the forum, please check here.