This project provides a socioeconomic baseline for evaluating the effects of Central Coast marine protected areas (MPAs) on the fishing industry and non-consumptive users (e.g., kayakers, surfers, SCUBA divers). It examined demographic and economic conditions in the region’s counties, and trends and conditions in its commercial fisheries and associated sectors. The project focused on 1981 to 2008, with additional attention to the history of the region’s fisheries prior to the 1980s. Collection, compilation, and analysis of primary and secondary source data, narrative description and explanation, and initial work on a practical human dimensions monitoring framework were completed for purposes of this project. The data were used to create a series of GIS maps showing the spatial distribution of fishing effort for various fisheries over time. This “human use” baseline will help managers assess the effects of MPAs on the fishing industry, while meeting the goals of the Marine Life Protection Act.