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.  Central...read more

Central Coast MPAs are on track

Some species have demonstrated early changes:

  • In kelp forests, a range of economically important fishes, including cabezon, lingcod, and black rockfish increased in abundance in MPAs compared to similar locations outside of MPAs.
  • On rocky shores, numbers and sizes of protected black abalone and harvested owl limpets increased inside MPAs during baseline monitoring.

A long-established MPA reveals the pace of change in marine life:

  • Monitoring results from one of the oldest MPAs in the region, Point Lobos, indicate that this MPA is home to higher numbers and larger individuals of economically important fishes than neighboring reefs, and reveal the pace of change in temperate marine ecosystems.

Fishing opportunities continue in a diversified local ocean economy:

  • Both recreational and commercial fishing continue to be an integral part of the Central Coast, and a shift in activities, such as whale watching tours offered by the CPFV fleet, demonstrate adaptation and resilience in the local ocean economy.

A benchmark is established for evaluating future performance:

  • Kelp forests, rocky shores, mid-depth, and deep ecosystems in the Central Coast region are characterized by distinct communities of marine plants, invertebrates, and fishes. These communities are set amidst an intricate backdrop of variable geology, dynamic ocean conditions, and complex human interactions.
  • Commercial and recreational fishing industries are a reflection of a complex interplay among environmental and economic conditions, and the regulatory landscape. Monitoring results set the stage to evaluate long-term socioeconomic effects of the MPAs.

Read the summary of Central Coast monitoring results

 

New collaborations are poised to steward the MPAs into the future

In February 2013, researchers, managers, and a wide range of other stakeholders came together to share, discuss, and build upon the results of the Central Coast MPA Baseline Program at a three-day symposium: State of the California Central Coast. Baseline researchers shared key findings alongside a variety of other scientists, resource managers, and engaged community members, reflecting not only the foundation that the baseline program has built, but also the great potential for the next phase of monitoring in this region.

Watch videos from the Central Coast Symposium

 

A foundation for science informed decisions for our oceans

The scientific data gathered and analyses conducted add up to the most detailed picture created of current ocean conditions. This is an important timestamp that will inform our understanding of our changing world. From ongoing MPA monitoring to fisheries and water quality management, and climate change adaptation, this scientific benchmark provides a foundation for citizen scientists and managers to keep a finder on the pulse of marine systems and make rigorous science informed decisions. The scientific data gathered and analyses conducted add up to the most detailed picture created of current ocean conditions. This is an important time stamp that will inform our understanding of our changing world. From ongoing MPA monitoring to fisheries and water quality management, and climate change adaptation, this scientific benchmark provides a foundation for citizen scientists and managers to keep a finder on the pulse of marine systems and make rigorous science informed decisions.

California Ocean Science Trust, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the California Ocean Protection Council are currently developing a plan to build a partnership-based portfolio of long term monitoring projects in the region.

Read more about ongoing work to update the Central Coast MPA Monitoring Plan