The MPA Collaborative Network’s Compliance Initiative, supported by Ocean Protection Council (OPC) Once-Through Cooling funds, and in partnership with the Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the California District Attorneys Association, and Resources Legacy Fund, is a multi-year initiative that aims to improve the compliance and enforcement of California’s network of MPAs. This initiative includes community compliance forums, allied agency enforcement trainings, prosecutor training, and MPA violation data collection.

Community Compliance Forums

While we are working simultaneously on all components of this project, most recently the Collaborative Network completed the compliance forum phase of the Initiative. We have hosted two in-person forums (pre-pandemic) and 13 virtual MPA community compliance forums across all coastal counties to hear the concerns of local stakeholders, land and ocean managers, and enforcement personnel. Statewide, we had nearly 700 registrants and over 500 attendees (over 30 of which were CDFW Wardens).

We are in the process of summarizing a total of over 2,200 compliance concerns and solutions mentioned during 40+ hours of calls or submitted in written comments. Top concerns included an increase in poaching in MPAs, excessive intertidal take, trash, and widespread wildlife disturbance. Two of the most mentioned potential contributors to noncompliance were thought to be a lack of awareness of regulations and an increase in visitation to MPAs and the coast, which could be attributed to the pandemic. Participants brought up solutions that were locally specific, yet there were common themes across the state. Recommended solutions included more and multilingual signs and brochures, boundary markers, docent programs, surveillance technology, identifiable field researchers, and additional law enforcement personnel patrolling MPAs.

Once the Collaborative summaries and statewide summary are complete, our next step is to access the $10,000-$30,000 (per Collaborative) earmarked to address concerns brought up at the forums. In addition to locally specific projects, we will strategize across Collaboratives to share projects and resources that are applicable across county lines to ensure effective use of funds. We are grateful for the ongoing support of OPC and CDFW for translating these locally sourced solutions into measurable increases in awareness and compliance of MPA regulations. Visit your local Collaborative’s webpage and join the mailing list to get information on upcoming meetings and projects.

Enforcement Trainings

The Collaborative Network and CDFW Law Enforcement Division hope to resume enforcement trainings for allied agency officers in 2021. The Los Angeles and San Mateo Collaboratives likely will hold the next Enforcement Trainings, either in-person or virtually in the spring of 2021, with more to follow. If you are an allied agency officer or representative, please send Calla (calla@mpacollaborative.org) any regulations or information you would like included in your county’s Officer Training and Reference Guide.

Prosecutor Training

The MPA Collaborative Network is working with the California District Attorneys Association to form a MPA Task Force of District Attorneys (DAs), to strengthen the prosecution of MPA related violations. If you are interested in learning more about prosecution of MPAs or the taskforce, please contact John Fentis: jfentis@cdaa.org or (310) 666-3032.

MPA Data Collection

MPA Collaborative Network South Coast Specialist, Aubrie Fowler, is continuing to collect and summarize MPA data from allied agencies. Once the 2020 data has been finalized, she will synthesize the reported contacts, violations, and other MPA compliance actions, in conjunction with results of the Compliance Forums.