The waters off the Central Coast of California have long supported fishing activities that are integral to the cultural and economic history of the area. Fisheries exemplify the interdependencies between the natural environment and coastal communities that have characterized California since well before the advent of statehood. The goal of this project, conducted by Ecotrust as part of the Central Coast Baseline Program, is to provide up-to-date socioeconomic information about key commercial fisheries and the commercial passenger fishing vessel (CPFV or “party boat”) fleet of the Central Coast region. 

By conducting interviews with the fishing community, Ecotrust creates maps of fishing grounds to characterize key commercial fisheries and the CPFV fleet of the Central Coast region. Utilizing pre- and post-MPA spatial data collected by Ecotrust in 2005 and 2011, the project develops fishery-specific spatial change maps to illustrate the change in the relative value of fishing areas. 

The project also examines California Department of Fish and Game commercial fisheries landings data and CPFV logbook data to provide information about the historical trends and initial changes in key commercial fisheries and ports after the Central Coast MPA network was implemented. By assessing historical trends along with initial changes in socioeconomic conditions and spatial fishing patterns that followed MPA implementation, this project explores how MPAs and other driving factors may interplay to influence observed changes.

Through this characterization of the commercial and CPFV industries, this project increases our understanding of the current socioeconomic health of the Central Coast fishing communities and provides a benchmark of socioeconomic conditions and spatial fishing patterns against which future MPA impacts and benefits can be measured.