Monitoring and Evaluation of Mid-Depth Rocky Reef Ecosystems in the MLPA Marine Protected Area Network

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San Jose State University Foundation
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Ecology and Evolution

The California Legislature passed the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) in 1999, requiring the state to redesign its system of marine protected areas (MPAs) to function as a statewide network in order to protect the abundance, integrity, and diversity of marine life, habitats, and ecosystems. The MLPA requires monitoring of the state’s MPAs to evaluate progress toward achieving the goals of the MLPA, and to facilitate adaptive management of the network of MPAs. The recently adopted MPA Monitoring Action Plan (Action Plan) also identifies the need for monitoring of specific habitats and human uses. CDFW and OPC are now designing and implementing statewide long‐term monitoring to reflect current priorities and management needs. They have requested proposals to support California’s Action Plan, specifically with respect to MPA monitoring. The state is seeking information about the effects of MPAs to date, and suggestions for long‐term monitoring of eight key habitats.

We will be part of a team of experts in MPA design, monitoring, and evaluation to help the state identify and evaluate changes that have occurred in the deeper portions of California MPAs and to help design plans for the continued monitoring of California MPAs.

Goals and Objectives of UCSB work:

  1. Collect information from new drop camera surveys to a) demonstrate the effectiveness of new, lower‐cost video tools that are being used around the world and b) provide a comparison/calibration with data collected from SCUBA surveys and collaborative fisheries catch data,
  2. Based on a time series of MPA, fisheries, and oceanographic data, provide an analysis and evaluation of changes in MPAs and associated Reference sites, and provide recommendations about future MPA monitoring, guided by the Action Plan.

UCSB researchers will lead Task 2 which includes a continuation and expansion of stereo‐ video lander tools to monitor MPAs. This work will also provide information to address Goals 1 and 2< of section 2.3 of the MPA Monitoring Action Plan: Selection of Key Measures and Metrics, Sites, and Species. To accomplish Task 2, the project team will:

  •  Construct stereo‐video landers (drop cameras) containing inexpensive Go‐Pro technologies,
  • Deploy and retrieve the mini‐landers from up to 3 MPAs and reference sites in southern CA
  • Work with other PIs to deploy and retrieve the mini‐landers from up to 2 MPAs and reference sites in central California
  • Review the collected video to provide the number and size of selected fishes and invertebrates, as well as habitat composition observed.