**This blog entry orginally appeared on the website oceanspaces.org.**/p>

When I’m at work, I’m struck by how amazing the views from our office are. We can see the city of San Francisco (on a clear day), the famous Oakland cranes, and the San Francisco Bay. These are all spectacular in their own way, but as we work on monitoring the State’s marine protected areas (MPAs), it’s easy to feel disconnected from the communities and locales where these areas exist. So, it’s exciting when we get to leave our offices, and travel to the areas of the coast that our work addresses.

view from Ocean Science Trust’s Oakland office

A few weeks ago, in late April, I and 3 of my colleagues at Ocean Science Trust were invited to attend a meeting in San Pedro, California, to talk MPAs with SoCal community members. The meeting was organized by members of local groups called MPA Collaboratives. The Collaboratives are groups that have been established all along the California coast. Made up  of representatives from the fishing community, tribes, agencies, academic institutions, environmental organizations, and local government, the Collaboratives provide a forum for members of California’s coastal communities to shape the on-the ground implementation and ongoing management of their local MPAs.

Held at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, this meeting was a place for the 5 Collaboratives based in Southern California to come together, along with State Partners, to share their activities and improve the ways we work together. For us at Ocean Science Trust, the meeting was an opportunity to update the Collaboratives on the the work we are doing with MPA monitoring in the South Coast region. It was also an opportunity to learn about the Collaboratives – what they care about with regards to MPAs, and what their priorities are around MPA management (i.e. outreach and education, enforcement, science and monitoring).

Right now MPA monitoring in the South Coast is in the baseline monitoring period. Over the next year we will be building a State of the Region report for the South Coast – a benchmark of ocean conditions at the time that the MPAs were implemented in the region. This ‘benchmark’ will draw broadly from existing research and monitoring programs  in the region, and will guide decision-making around MPAs and ocean health. For us at Ocean Science Trust, having a better understanding of the priorities and interests of the Collaboratives and the communities they represent can help us create products and share results from the baseline monitoring period, in forms that are accessible, relevant and useful.

Secretary John Laird speaking at the meeting 

Through breakout groups we led, and informative chats during lunch, we learned that the Collaboratives are excited to contribute and help share results from MPA monitoring, and want to work with us to get important, relevant information from baseline monitoring to their broader communities. This meeting also reinforced the Collaboratives as a resource that can help us in our work of communicating and sharing results from MPA Monitoring to those individuals and groups that have a vested interest in their local MPAs. Over the next year, as we continue to work with communities and groups in the South Coast, we’ll also be working more closely with the Collaboratives, which means more visits to the SoCal…we hope!


Learn more about the collaboratives here

Join the South Coast Monitoring Community on OceanSpaces to stay up to speed on monitoring activities in the region.

Questions? Contact marisa.villarreal@oceansciencetrust.org