A Working Group of the Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team

Final Report Now Available!

“Scientific Guidance for Evaluating California’s Marine Protected Area Network: A Report by an Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team Working Group and Ocean Science Trust (June 2021)”

Full report
OPC Foreword

In this report, the working group provides a socio-ecological framework to guide decadal evaluations of California’s MPA network and articulates recommendations for near and long-term investments in research and monitoring to support robust network evaluations.


California’s coast and ocean are as important to our culture as they are to our economy; a healthy and vibrant coast and ocean are vitally important for a thriving California. In that spirit, the Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 (MLPA) established a statewide network of marine protected areas (MPAs) to protect the integrity of marine ecosystems, rebuild depleted marine life populations, and improve ocean health.

In partnership with the California Ocean Protection Council, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the California Fish and Game Commission, Ocean Science Trust is convening an Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team working group to provide scientific guidance on a framework for network-wide evaluation of the performance of the MPA network against the goals laid out in the MLPA. OPC SAT Working Groups are interdisciplinary teams of scientists drawn from across the US to synthesize scientific understanding, develop new approaches, and provide scientific recommendations and advice to OPC on priority topics. Ocean Science Trust serves as the Secretariat of the OPC SAT, providing essential governance direction and oversight as well as designing and executing effective and efficient working group processes.

In order to provide the most salient science guidance, Ocean Science Trust will assemble and convene a Policy Advisory Committee of agency leadership to articulate the questions most pressing to decision-makers. Ocean Science Trust will also engage the scientists charged with collecting monitoring data, to ensure the working group explores appropriate scientific approaches for integrating those data, and other available data sources, into network-wide analyses. This scientific guidance will be integral in supporting the State’s upcoming decadal management review of the MPA network, slated for December 2022.

Working Group Membership

Steve Murray, California State University, Fullerton (co-chair)
Madeleine Hall-Arber, MIT Sea Grant (co-chair)
Mark Carr, University of California, Santa Cruz (Long-term Monitoring PI Liaison)
Lindsay Aylesworth, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
John Field, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Kirsten Grorud-Colvert, Oregon State University
Rebecca Martone, Province of British Columbia, Marine and Coastal Resources
Stephan Munch, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Kerry Nickols, California State University, Northridge
Steve Wertz, California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Project timeline: August 2019 – December 2020

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