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Resource Issues: Marine Protected Areas

Summary & Timeline of MBNMS MPA Working Group Activities


  • The public and the Sanctuary Advisory Council identify MPAs as a priority issue for the sanctuary's revised management plan


  • A multi-stakeholder MPA working group forms with approximately 20 individuals from the research, diving, fishing, environmental and management communities to develop strategies for a MPA action plan


Working group completes an action plan that is adopted by the Sanctuary Advisory Council at a SAC meeting in December 2003


  • Ecological background information is compiled
  • Goals and objectives are set based on the National Marine Sanctuaries Act including conservation, education, socioeconomics, research and compatible use (Click here (78KB PDF*) to see the list of goals)
  • Habitat categories are defined (12 categories by depth and substrate type)


  • Socioeconomic data is gathered through interviews with fishermen and non-consumptive users
  • MPA decision support tool is developed which allows interested users to view socioeconomic, biological and physical data, create potential MPA boundaries and generate information of interest
  • The MLPA process to create MPAs in central coast state waters begins. With that effort underway, the working group decides to focus their future efforts on federal waters only
  • The MBNMS MPA working group takes a hiatus to concentrate on central coast MLPA process


  • MPA working group reconvenes and identifies areas of interest for MPAs in federal waters. Each area is evaluated based on habitat, biological resources and use patterns
  • A GIS tool is developed that allows users to view a complete list of fisheries management measures enacted at a given location in the sanctuary
  • A regional science workshop is held on the "Science of MPA Design in Offshore Waters." Science guidelines are developed for the working group's consideration of MPAs in offshore habitats (deeper than 100 m)
  • A draft resource assessment is developed, "The Natural Resources of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary: A Focus on Federal Waters." The assessment parallels conservation goals of the MPA action plan including habitat characterizations, habitat function, habitat structure, species movement and dispersal and species of special interest


  • Habitat categories are refined and include 12 offshore categories (nearshore excluded)
  • Evaluations are conducted to find out how much of each habitat category falls within existing spatial protections (including the MLPA MPAs, Essential Fish Habitat and Rockfish Conservation Area)
  • Members share their perspectives on need for MPAs
  • State MLPA MPAs goes into effect on the central coast.
URL:    Reviewed: July 26, 2017
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