Characterized by picturesque cliffs and shorelines, the Central Coast is home to a vast diversity of species and life.

The marine and coastal waters of California’s Central Coast region are among the most biologically productive in the world, driven by the seasonal upwelling of nutrient-rich waters from the seafloor to the sea surface. Giant kelp grow as tall as trees, forming underwater forests. Ocean waters range from shallow estuaries to depths of nearly a mile in the Monterey Submarine Canyon. more

Currently, California Ocean Science Trust, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the California Ocean Protection Council are engaged in a collaborative effort to plan and implement the next phase of monitoring in the Central Coast, building on the foundation of baseline monitoring in the region. The program will ‘take the pulse’ of ocean ecosystems and ocean-based human activities and address key management questions at selected sites inside and outside of MPAs.


The updated Central Coast MPA Monitoring Plan reflects local priorities and management needs, and provides recommendations for 'taking the pulse' of marine ecosystems and ocean-based human activities and for assessing the effectiveness of MPA design. Included in this plan is a description of an innovative, scientific monitoring framework that forms the foundation for both baseline and long-term monitoring throughout the state. The framework helps to ensure that monitoring can be used to assess progress toward MLPA goals and that results are comparable across the state.

The updated Central Coast MPA Monitoring plan was developed with extensive input from scientists, resource managers, and stakeholders. This input was collected at large community gatherings, small-group meetings, and discussions from January to April 2014. The draft monitoring plan was released for public input in mid-May 2014 and revised in consideration of comments received. 

On October 8, 2014, the California Fish and Game Commission adopted the updated Central Coast MPA Monitoring Plan. The adoption of this plan marks an important step towards launching long-term monitoring in the region. Click here to view the updated Central Coast MPA Monitoring Plan.



The Central Coast Monitoring Survey helped identify the geographic and temporal coverage of research and monitoring activities inside and outside of Central Coast MPAs, the compatibility of those activities with the metrics and priorities outlined in the Central Coast MPA Monitoring Plan, and potential partnerships and opportunities to build upon existing capacity in the region.

The Central Coast Monitoring Survey closed on September 26, 2014. Thank you to everybody who participated in and shared the survey. At least 60 Central Coast research and monitoring projects took the survey, representing over 1,300 sites. Results from the survey are publicly available in the Central Coast Monitoring Dashboard.

Visit the Central Coast Monitoring Dashboard


Currently Underway - Developing a workplan for Central Coast MPA Monitoring

In June 2014, the California Ocean Protection Council authorized up to $3 million to support and seed the next five years of Central Coast MPA monitoring. These funds will be leveraged through a partnership-based approach to monitoring that will be guided by the Central Coast MPA Monitoring Plan and results of the Central Coast Monitoring Survey. During winter-spring 2015, Ocean Science Trust, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and California Ocean Protection Council will collaboratively develop a workplan for disbursement of these funds. Funding for monitoring will be implemented through partnership agreements, contracts, requests for proposals (RFPs), and requests for qualifications (RFQs) at key periods over the course of the next five years.

View the timeline for building and launching Central Coast long-term monitoring

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California invests in a benchmark of ocean health

Baseline monitoring was launched in 2007 in the Central Coast region. With an $4 million investment from the Ocean Protection Council and through a competitive proposal process, five projects were selected to collect baseline ecological and socioeconomic data.

In addition, California Reef Check, an ongoing citizen science program, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) program joined the baseline program collaboration. In 2011, with additional OPC support, up-to-date socioeconomic data were added to the baseline program.

Read more about the results from baseline monitoring in the Central Coast


Baseline monitoring planning reflects local priorities

Planning baseline monitoring was a collaborative effort. It’s a unique opportunity to collect a broad suite of ecological and socioeconomic data to rigorously document and understand ocean ecosystem conditions in the one to two years after MPA implementation. But setting priorities is still a necessity. Working with scientists throughout the region and beyond, the Department of Fish and Wildlife gathered a range of information to identify priority habitats.