Marine Protected Area (MPA) Watch is a network of programs that support healthy oceans through community science by collecting human use data in and around our protected areas. A variety of standardized and custom data reports are available, including standardized reports for each coastal county in which MPA Watch operates. Standardized reports are available online at mpawatch.org under the Data Reports tab. Reporting periods cover January 1 – June 30 and January 1 – December 31 of each year. Standardized reports are available without a log in. Customized reports may be requested by emailing the MPA Watch Coordinator at angela@wildcoast.org.

To learn more about what data and reports are available watch this short video, download the MPA Watch data and reports one-pager, or visit MPAWatch.org for more information.

In May of 2019, Ocean Protection Council (OPC) staff members recommended and approved the allocation of Once-Through-Cooling (OTC) Interim Mitigation Funds to MPA education and enforcement projects. One project, proposed by the Resources Legacy Fund, is a three-year Marine Protected Area (MPA) Compliance Initiative to enhance compliance of MPA regulations statewide through community-based efforts. This Initiative supports two sub-grantees as key partners to promote MPA compliance: MPA Watch and the MPA Collaborative Network. OPC approved allocation of this funding.

This MPA Watch project is supported by Resources Legacy Fund (RLF), in which RLF, California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW), and UC Davis have collaborated to model five continuous years (of the 10 years) of human use data in and around MPAs collected by MPA Watch volunteers across the state. OPC funds support five existing MPA Watch programs from San Diego to Santa Barbara, and RLF’s matching funds support four existing programs from Marin to Del Norte and two new programs in the Central Coast to establish data collection statewide. These funds support shore and boat-based MPA Watch programs, and fund a 18-month postdoctoral fellow at UC Davis to analyze 10 years of MPA Watch data. The postdoctoral fellow will prepare a report to inform the MPA network review presented to the Fish and Game Commission in 2022. For more details on the project, please visit OPC’s staff recommendation here.

During the more recent MPA Watch meeting in July of 2020, the UC Davis researchers got some initial feedback on their models from MPA Collaborative members which will help shape the models moving forward. MPA Watch and partners are currently exploring how this data can best be used to inform compliance efforts.

MPA Watch is a community science program that trains volunteers to collect scientific human use data on coastal and marine resource use, such as recreational activities, fishing, and other consumptive and non-consumptive activities in and around MPAs. Volunteers use standardized protocols to collect relevant, scientifically rigorous, and accessible human use data. Data are meant to inform the management, enforcement, and science of California’s MPAs, and allow MPA Watch’s network of programs and organizations to track how the public uses coastal areas. Moreover, MPA Watch programs inspire and empower stewardship, and educate the public about California’s ocean ecosystems. The MPA Watch project will also inform CDFW’s decadal review of MPA management in 2022.

Visit www.mpawatch.org/ to learn more about the MPA Watch program. Looking to get involved? Check out MPA Watch’s Get Involved page here. Please note that COVID-19 and associated beach closures have impacted volunteer opportunities on a region-specific basis and physical distancing protocol is in place during this time. Some MPA Watch teams are developing a virtual MPA Watch training – please stay tuned!

Photos from MPA Watch