MPA Monitoring

Use the tabs below to learn more and view the monitoring data and research reports coming out of California’s MPA Network!

California MPAs Baseline Monitoring:

At or near the time of MPA implementation in each of the MPA regions, California launched Phase 1: regional baseline monitoring. The purpose of baseline monitoring is to establish a benchmark or characterization of ocean conditions and human activities, inside and outside MPAs, against which future changes can be measured. This benchmark, combined with long-term monitoring, will provide California the information needed to better understand conditions and trends of marine species, habitats, and ecosystems inside and outside MPAs. This is a critical step in informing adaptive management of the MPA network to meet the goals of the Marine Life Protection Act. The benchmark will also provide an opportunity to inform fisheries management and to learn about the effects of climate change and pollution on California’s coastal ecosystems so managers can adapt resource management strategies accordingly.

California MPAs Long-Term Monitoring:

Phase 2 of implementation involves statewide long-term monitoring. Long-term monitoring of California’s MPAs reflects current State priorities and management needs, and builds on the knowledge, capacity, and unique considerations developed for each region during Phase 1 (regional baseline monitoring). The Statewide MPA Monitoring Action Plan informs next steps for long-term monitoring by compiling work to date, as well as incorporating novel, quantitative, and expert informed approaches. The Action Plan prioritizes key measures and metrics, habitats, sites, species, human uses, and management questions to target for long-term monitoring and aid in the evaluation of the Network in meeting the goals of the MLPA. For more information, click here.

Framework to Guide MPA Monitoring:

California Coastal Monitoring Dashboard: Use this interactive dashboard to explore who’s monitoring what, where along the California coast from Point Arena to the US-Mexico border. Data in the dashboard come from the results of the North Central, Central, and South Coast Monitoring Surveys.   

Ocean Spaces MPA Monitoring: An inclusive online community built upon a foundation of rigorous scientific knowledge about the health of California ocean ecosystems and current ocean resource management initiatives. Ocean Spaces hosts a data archive, with all data collected by organizations participating in official state-funded MPA monitoring.

MPA Monitoring Data Catalog: Ocean Spaces MPA monitoring data archive. All data is freely accessible by the public.

Marine Applied Research and Exploration:  Partnering with state agencies and academic institutions, MARE has been conducting baseline and long-term monitoring surveys of the deep subtidal portions of California’s MPAs since 2003. Learn more about their work here.

MPA Long-term monitoring

In 2018, CDFW and OPC developed the MPA Monitoring Action Plan to inform next steps for long-term monitoring. The document prioritizes key measures and metrics to target for long-term monitoring, which will aid in the evaluation of the MPA Network in meeting the goals of the Marine Life Protection Act.

In 2019, seven statewide Long-Term Monitoring projects (PDF) were funded by the Ocean Protection Council (OPC). The final long-term MPA monitoring reports are available here.

IN 2019/2020, projects were added to the Long-Term Monitoring portfolio including the Estuary Monitoring Program (PDF), the Network Connectivity Model (PDF), and the Tribal Stewards Pilot Program (PDF).

      • South Coast MPA Baseline Monitoring Data: View here
      • South Coast MPA Baseline Program Technical Reports: View here
      • South Coast Baseline Monitoring Program Final Report: View here
      • South Coast Long-Term MPA Monitoring Plan: View here
      • Baseline Monitoring Data: View here 
      • Baseline Monitoring Summary of Results: View here 
      • Sate of the California Central Coast- Results from Baseline Monitoring Report: View here 
      • Long-Term  Monitoring: View here 
      • Summary of MPA Monitoring: View here 
      • A Decade of Protection- 10 Years of Change at there Channel Islands (PISCO): After ten years of monitoring within a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the northern Channel Islands, a new series of analyses show changes in subtidal rocky reef and kelp forest habitats. View here  
      • Monitoring MPAs in Deep Water Off Central California–2007 IMPACT Submersible Baseline Survey: View here 
      • Baseline Monitoring Data: View here
      • Baseline Monitoring Summary of Results: View here
      • State of the California North- Central Coast: View here
      • North Central Coast MPA Baseline Program Technical Reports: View here
      • North-Central Coast Long-Term MPA Monitoring: View here
      • Summary of North Central Coast MPA Monitoring Plan: View here
      • North Coast MPA Baseline Program Technical Reports: View here
      • North Coast Baseline Monitoring Data: View here
      • North Coast Long-Term Monitoring Information: The North-Coast region is currently planning to begin long term monitoring. Learn more here.
Click Here for MORE Research Articles & Reports

Integration of California’s Marine Protected Areas — Review and Recommendations (Ocean Conservancy): The goal of this document is to capture MPA integration insights and lessons learned across key agencies and identify trends, examples and best practices used to assess project impacts and uphold MPA protections.

Conserving our Oceans One Place at a Time (NOAA): An overview of U.S. MPAs and how MPA networks are being used to protect marine life, cultural resources, marine ecosystems and the coastal communities they sustain.

Establishing Resilient Marine Protected Area Networks — Making It Happen (IUCN, 2008) This guide provides essential information to better understand the role of marine protected area networks to achieve marine conservation. It utilizes current scientific knowledge, institutional experience and global case studies to present the most relevant lessons in building resilient and functional networks.

The National Marine Protected Area Center special issue — focused on Networks of Marine Protected Areas: Networks of Marine Protected Areas: What are they and why are they needed? (Current: The Journal of Marine Education):   This special issue of Current focuses on MPA networks areas and provides information about both the federal and state MPAs and how they can serve as an effective tool for conserving marine resources.

Designing Marine Reserve Networks for Both Conservation and Fisheries Management: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS):

Science of Marine Reserves – United States Edition (PISCO):

Pacific Ocean Synthesis  (Center for Ocean Solutions): This report summarizes and distills the scientific literature and highlights common trends in and around the Pacific Ocean regarding threats, impacts and solutions through the review of more than 3400 scientific articles and reports.

PPIC Statewide Survey- Californians and the Environment: As of Summer 2017, more than three in four Californians say it is very important that California have Marine Protected Areas. To view more, follow this link:

The mission of the California’s Marine Protected Areas Education and Outreach Initiative is to enhance MPA education through enduring partnerships to empower Californians to protect what they know and love.