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

OceanSpaces is an online community that fosters new knowledge of ocean health. The platform brings everyone together with a stake in the health of California’s oceans – scientists, fishermen, policymakers and citizens – offering new opportunities for individuals to communicate, create and share information. A shared body of scientific knowledge enables us to make informed decisions and becomes the basis for participation in ocean resource management and stewardship.

OceanSpaces is managed by the MPA Monitoring Enterprise, a program of California Ocean Science Trust, which works at the boundary of science and management to provide impartial, rigorous and cost-effective information about California’s ocean health and the performance of the statewide network of marine protected areas (MPAs). We lead the design and implementation of California’s statewide MPA monitoring program. The program is the most comprehensive study of the state’s ocean ever undertaken, and will inform not only adaptive management of MPAs, but also fisheries management, water quality monitoring, climate change adaptation and other ocean policy.

Through our work, we’ve met a broad community of participants interested in California’s ocean health. We saw the need emerge for a neutral space where the monitoring community could share data and results, demonstrate the transparency of science and the monitoring process and build new collaborations. Teams of academic researchers, state agency scientists, fishermen and citizen scientists collect data on ecologically and economically important marine life living inside and outside the MPAs, and study human-use activities such as fishing, kayaking and SCUBA diving. These new collaborations incorporate a broad community into the monitoring effort and provide diverse knowledge and expertise.

OceanSpaces is launching as the hub of scientific monitoring data, analyses and results from California’s network of marine protected areas. From ecological assessments to socioeconomic analyses of human uses, OceanSpaces provides free, easy access to relevant scientific information on the conditions in and around the state’s MPAs. Anyone can view and download this information, use it to make informed decisions and further the dialog around ocean management, policy and stewardship.

More than a data portal, the heart of OceanSpaces is its community. Hundreds of individuals, groups and organizations have already joined, created profile pages and contributed data, videos, news, and other content. We’ve made it easy to follow updates on monitoring projects, create new groups around topics of interest and connect to a wider community. We invite you to join OceanSpaces, share your ideas and help bring the site to life!