MPA Watch Program
Join us for San Diego's first MPA Watch Program
Southern California’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) went into effect January 1st, 2012, and we need strong community support in order to ensure their success. If you like to walk on the beach, people watch, and are interested in supporting marine conservation, then this is the perfect volunteer activity for you!
Join WiLDCOAST’s new citizen-science data collection program called “MPA Watch” to be part of the effort to succeed in the long-term success of the newly establish MPA network in San Diego County.
MPA Watch Volunteer Requirements
· Volunteers must be at least 15 years of age
· Ability to hike outdoors at the beach for about 1.5 hours
· All volunteers must give at least a 6-month commitment, ideally completing 2-4 surveys a month in the field. Once trained, volunteer monitoring times are flexible
· Volunteers must attend the trainings (one in the classroom, and one in the field)
What is MPA Watch?
MPA Watch is a citizen science data collection program designed to better understand how people are using their new MPAs. Volunteers will be trained to collect valuable data on ocean users and their activities, such as surfing, kayaking, fishing, boating, running, etc. These surveys will allow us to better understand how people are using the MPAs, and we will also evaluate compliance with the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) policies and regulations. This data will also help us to understand where there may be a need for enhanced education and outreach, signage, and law enforcement.
Please note that we are not asking any MPA Watch volunteers to police any of the ocean users, rather just to observe and record beach and ocean activity taking place during their data collection walk.
We will launch the MPA Watch program at the Tijuana River Mouth SMCA and conduct our second MPA Watch training in Encinitas, at the Swami’s SMCA at a later date.
Who enforces MPAs?
The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is the agency charged with management and enforcement of MPA regulations. To report any illegal activities, such as poaching, harassment of animals, or pollution in the MPAs, call 1-888-DFG-CALTIP (888-334-2258). You can also notify your local lifeguards.
Why is it important to record user (non-consumptive) data?
The data we collect will be both for consumptive uses (e.g. recreational and commercial on-shore and off-shore fishing) and non-consumptive uses (e.g. surfing, sun-bathing, walking on the beach, scuba diving, kayaking, etc.) This data will help us to analyze trends within the boundaries of San Diego’s MPAs, and outside of the boundaries, since data will also be collected at nearby sites outside of the MPAs. Marine recreational activities are encouraged in all of San Diego’s MPAs since these special places were chosen for their high ecological and biological importance, and people should enjoy the environment.
Why monitor MPAs?
The California Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) requires the state to design and manage an improved network of Marine Protected Areas. The MLPA also requires monitoring to ensure that the MPA network meets the goals of the MLPA to facilitate adaptive management of the MPAs, and to improve understanding of marine systems. Monitoring MPAs when they are newly established will provide a description, assessment, and understanding of ecological and socioeconomic conditions inside and outside MPAs designated under the MLPA.
What is citizen-science?
Citizen-science is research conducted by trained volunteers (the general public) that are interested in science, monitoring, and conservation of the marine environment. You do not need any scientific background to collect data for these surveys.
WiLDCOAST is an international conservation group that conserves coastal and marine ecosystems and wildlife. Since 2008 WiLDCOAST has been at the forth front of the Marine Life Protection Act helping in the creation and adoption of Southern California’s new MPAs. Since the adoption of the MPAs on January 1s, 2012, WiLDCOAST has been working to educate San Diego residents and visitors about the new MPA network and providing opportunities to participate in stewardship actions.
If you have any questions about the program and/or training please contact Conservation Program Coordinator Diane Castaneda at email@example.com.