With our support, MPA Watch programs are taking their work to the next level. We helped them to develop a statewide set of methods and protocols, underpinned by a new information management system to encourage consistency and help with program coordination. We established an advisory group, drawing on experts from social science, natural science, coastal management, and enforcement. And we’re helping to develop the analytical tools necessary for sharing MPA Watch results with a variety of users, such as scientists, resource managers, and law enforcement.
All of this required us to understand the on-the-ground reality of implementing a volunteer-based program. The vision for a statewide network of citizen science volunteers providing valuable information to decision makers can only take shape through practical recommendations that work in a local program.