A network of marine protected areas (MPAs) stretches along California’s entire coast. Together, these important places can build more resilient ecosystems. The state has invested $16 million in scientific monitoring of MPAs, equipping decision-makers with the information needed to assess impacts from the Refugio oil spill and help restore ocean health.

 

MPAs are living laboratories for tracking change

Through comprehensive monitoring inside and outside of MPAs, we already have an unprecedented wealth of detailed information about the condition of areas at and near Refugio State Beach before the spill. This will serve as a reference point for identifying changes. 

 

MPA monitoring has built a network of people who are responding to the Refugio oil spill

Immediately after the spill, scientists mobilized to conduct rapid monitoring of affected areas. With this network already in place, we have the expertise and capacity to efficiently generate robust information that decision-makers can use. 

Map indicating the location of the Refugio oil spill and neighboring MPAs. (Image: Green Info Network, via the MPA Collaborative Implementation Project)
Map indicating the location of the Refugio oil spill and neighboring MPAs (Image: Green Info Network, via the MPA Collaborative Implementation Project)

 

MPA monitoring is critical to track recovery of these important places

The knowledge we have from MPA monitoring is useful and powerful. Moving forward, continued monitoring will be critical for tracking the spill’s impacts and helping decision-makers recover habitats and restore ocean health. 

 

Looking forward

Long-term monitoring of these areas will help identify the ecosystems and species most affected by the spill, and can support decision-makers in pursuing management actions that build a resilient, productive, and healthy coast and ocean.

The coastline near Refugio State Beach (Image: Reef Check California)
The coastline near Refugio State Beach (Image: Reef Check California)

MPA monitoring near the spill

From 2011-2013, six state-funded MPA monitoring projects collected data at and near Refugio State Beach. Part of the South Coast MPA Baseline Program, the results have built a detailed reference for conditions in the area before the Refugio oil spill.

The results and supporting data from these projects are publicly available. Click on a link to learn more:

Scientists collect data in rocky intertidal ecosystems for the South Coast MPA Baseline Program (Image: C. Blanchette)
Scientists collect data in rocky intertidal ecosystems for the South Coast MPA Baseline Program (Image: C. Blanchette)