On September 14, the Ocean Protection Council approved two projects designed to benefit California’s MPA network.
First, the Ocean Protection Council voted to grant up to $500,000 to fund the California Marine Sanctuary Foundation (CMSF) and the MPA Collaborative Network to implement an MPA Signage Project. This move supports the identification by members of the state’s MPA Collaboratives and the MPA Statewide Leadership Team of signage as critical to further increasing MPA awareness, stewardship and regulatory compliance to protect California’s coastal and marine ecosystems. Through a series of Compliance Forums, funded in part by OPC, members of the 14 county-based MPA Collaboratives (including non-profits, local government and Tribal members, enforcement officials, anglers, and non-consumptive ocean recreationists) identified the top four compliance concerns as: poaching in MPAs; trash and pollution; wildlife disturbance; and harmful tide pooling. The number one solution identified to address these compliance concerns was signage. The recently approved project will include engagement with stakeholders to develop locally relevant content, followed by the creation and installation of between 75 to 100 new signs.
Second, Council members voted to disburse up to $500,000 to San Jose State University to continue funding the California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program (CCFRP). As the first decadal management review of California’s Marine Protected Area Network commences, the state recognizes that its novel partnership-based approach and collaborations with NGOs, community science organizations, and academic institutions has enabled the collection and compilation of the best available science. In 2019, the OPC funded several long-term monitoring projects currently underway, including CCFRP, a partnership of people and communities interested in sustainable fisheries. Since 2007, CCFRP has been bringing together the expertise and ideas of fishermen and scientists to gather information for MPA and fisheries management. The program has been vital to understand the effects of MPAs on local marine resources; data collected through CCFRP allows researchers to determine whether any changes in fished and unfished populations are due to differences in area, season, year, or level of protection. Extending support for CCFRP through the 2022 field season will provide much-needed scientific information to continue assessments of the efficacy of California’s MPAs and support of sustainable fisheries management.