CalOceans News

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MPA Digest, Volume II: Milestones

May 6th, 2011

This month, as we celebrate the first anniversary of the underwater parks that dot northern California's coast, we're also celebrating the efforts of the students, divers, fishermen, scientists, and surfers that helped to plan them, and are helping to ensure their long-term success.

California‚Äôs marine protected areas act as sanctuaries for marine plants and animals, but they also give visitors a chance to learn about sea life, and function like living laboratories where scientists can study the impacts of different activities on ocean systems. 

Coastal residents are helping to design the state's marine protected areas through the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) implementation process, and they continue to play a hands-on role in their management, helping to staff citizen science programs, educate the public about new rules, and keep their eyes on the water.

Right now, government and community groups are working together to gather information the state can use to assess the effectiveness of marine protected areas on the north central coast. Here are three cool collaborative efforts:

* LiMPETs teaches students to survey tidepools and beaches to
track populations of key plants and animals.

* Beach Watch volunteers count birds and mammals and record human uses all along our coast.

* This collaborative scientist/fisherman project involves a remote operated vehicle that is being flown along the seafloor to gather information about deepwater habitats.

* The MPA Monitoring Enterprise has developed a draft plan to monitor the effectiveness of the recently approved south coast marine protected areas that is now available for public review. Public comments are being accepted at mpamonitoring@calost.org through May 27. For more information, visit http://monitoringenterprise.org/where/southcoast.php . CalOceans will continue to nkeep you posted about opportunities to get involved in information gathering through southern California programs like the ones described above once they get underway.

The Laguna Blue Belt was recently recognized for their role in securing approval of the Laguna marine reserve. Mayor Toni Iseman congratulated the group on their consistent presence at local and state hearings, and the city council recently recognized the impact grassroots efforts can have in planning and stewardship of marine protected areas.