On August 5th and 6th the Marine Protected Area (MPA) Collaborative Network gathered at the Asilomar Conference Center and Grounds in Pacific Grove, Monterey County, for a day and a half Education and Outreach Forum focused on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Participants from Del Norte to San Diego came together to share MPA resources, and develop approaches for combining efforts to continue to work together to further the sustained success of the California MPA network.
Back in 2012, California implemented a world class system of 124 marine protected areas, created through a comprehensive stakeholder-led public process. To ensure locals continued to have a voice in the stewardship and management of their MPAs, Collaborative Network Director, Calla Allison, led the development of Collaboratives covering each of California’s coastal counties.
Recently, all fourteen California MPA Collaboratives completed amazing projects funded through the Ocean Protection Councils Small Grants Program, and the forum provided the opportunity to share finished products. Each project addressed priority needs in at least one of four focal areas that make up the MPA Management Program: outreach and education, research and monitoring, enforcement and compliance, and policy and permitting.
Projects included a bilingual coloring book created by the Monterey Collaborative, a brochure on preventing the spread of invasive species by the Santa Barbara Channel Collaborative, and an MPA Ambassador Online Training program created by the Golden Gate Collaborative.
“You could feel the energy and excitement in the room as representatives from across the state shared ideas, made connections, and inspired one another,” said Nicole Palma, Program Manager for the MPA Collaborative Network. “As someone new to California and the MPA Collaborative Network, it is encouraging to see the meaningful collaborations and an honor to be a part of this wonderful network of people working towards ocean stewardship.”
The forum was complete with a video showcase featuring outreach videos created by the by the Del Norte, Humboldt, Sonoma, San Mateo, and San Luis Obispo collaboratives. These videos feature incredible underwater footage of MPAs, and are the perfect tool for introducing the public to MPAs in a fun and informative way.
Looking to the future, another exciting project in the works is the Trident mini-ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) Program. Imagine a drone in submarine form. During the forum attendees had the chance to participate in a mini-ROV training, and watch a live-streamed dive demonstration. Collaboratives will soon be utilizing and testing Trident ROVs for outreach and education and monitoring of MPAs through citizen science.
“The forum was a perfect example of what the MPA Collaborative Network is all about: bringing diverse people together to brainstorm the best approaches to ocean stewardship,” said Calla Allison, Director of the MPA Collaborative Network. “It was inspiring to us as organizers to see all of the great work done for MPA education and outreach in one place and to hear about the great ideas for the future.”