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RAP Policies

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Research Activity Panel

 Purpose and Protocols

January 2023

Purpose of the RAP:

  • Advise sanctuary staff on science issues1 that will influence policy (e.g., address research questions in the Management Plan)
  • Review of research issues and documents for SAC and sanctuary staff
  • Facilitate the exchange of regional research information and create opportunities for project coordination
  • Convey regional research needs and opportunities to the SAC


  • Membership criteria:
    • Expertise in disciplines relevant to the sanctuary
    • Willingness to serve on the RAP and provide community service
    • Affiliation with one or more regional marine science institutions
    • Connectivity to the regional marine science community
    • Multidisciplinary research interests
  • Membership will contain a group of disciplines relevant to the sanctuary, such as 2,3,4:
    • Biological Oceanography
    • Deep-Sea Environment
    • Estuarine Environment
    • Fisheries
    • Marine and Coastal Geology
    • Marine Conservation Biology
    • Nearshore Environment
    • Physical Oceanography
    • Shelf and Slope Environment
    • Social Sciences
    • Water Quality
  • Membership should reflect the broadest marine science institutional diversity possible.  Regional institutions from which to seek membership:
    • Universities and associated marine labs
    • State and federal agencies
    • Private marine research institutions
  • The Sanctuary Research Coordinator will be a standing member.  A standing invitation will be given to the Research Coordinators at the Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries.
  • Selection of RAP members:
    • Candidates nominated by current RAP members on the basis of discipline expertise
    • Selection of members by a committee consisting of: RAP Chair (meeting leader), a volunteer RAP member, MBNMS Research Coordinator, MBNMS Superintendent and SAC Chair
  • Members must have an alternate, also selected by the committee
  • Members serve three-year terms, renewable by agreement between the selection committee and the RAP member
  • Meetings are open to all researchers and the public

RAP Meeting Format:

  • Four5 meetings per year
  • Standing agenda items:
    • Updates, requests for information, and discussion on Management Plan Action Plans, led by sanctuary staff
    • Responses to requests from SAC and sanctuary staff
    • Opportunities to facilitate regional research collaboration
    • Updates on regional science capabilities or needs

Responsibilities of RAP Members:

  • Attend all meetings (member or alternate should attend at least 4 meetings per year)
  • Coordinate attendance between member and alternate and remain knowledgeable about current RAP issues in absence of meetings
  • Help address research questions related to the Managment Plan
  • Invite participation by and facilitate connection to regional experts on Management Plan Action Plans
  • Advise SAC and sanctuary staff on basic and conservation science issues, including, but not limited to:
    • Review and comment on technical reports
    • Write brief reports or notes
    • Suggest potential panels to address specific science issues
  • Convey sanctuary-related research concerns and opportunities to the SAC through the RAP Chair
  • Participate in the nomination and voting process for the Ed Ricketts Memorial Award and Lecture

Responsibilities of RAP Chair:

  • Serve on the SAC as Research Representative, as described in SAC protocols
  • Chair and facilitate RAP meetings
  • Meet with sanctuary staff 2 weeks prior to each RAP meeting to set the agenda
  • Debrief with sanctuary staff after each RAP meeting and follow-up on action items
  • Provide leadership to improve and maintain RAP function

Responsibilities of RAP Vice-Chair:

  • Serve on the SAC as an alternate for the Research Representative seat, as described in SAC protocols
  • Fill the role of RAP Chair when he/she is not available


  • Decisions are reached mostly by consensus
  • When voting is necessary, both members and their alternates can vote

Interacting with MBNMS SAC, other SAC Working Groups, and Staff 6:

  • The RAP will review, comment and advise on issues and documents upon request from the SAC or MBNMS staff
  • The RAP will focus their reviews on the research and science aspects of the issue or document
  • In response to requests, the RAP may have experts on the panel willing to review topics, may suggest colleagues willing and capable of providing reviews, or may provide a list of relevant literature on the topic. Since the RAP is a voluntary body, for extensive reviews, it may simply provide a list of capable scientists and research organizations with whom the SAC or staff can arrange contracts
  • MBNMS staff benefit greatly from requests to individual RAP members on a variety of small-scale issues
  • The RAP may also convey requests to the SAC or staff through the RAP Chair, particularly for issues relevant to the research community

1 Former wording was, "conservation science issues." Changed at 9/9/2005 RAP meeting.

2 Former wording was, "Members should represent the following disciplines:" Changed at 9/9/2005 RAP meeting.

3 Former disciplines were "Estuaries, Marine & Coastal Ecology, Deep-Sea Benthic Ecology, Nearshore & Shelf Benthic Ecology, Biological Oceanography, Physical Oceanography, Marine Conservation Biology, Seabirds & Shorebirds, Marine Mammals, Ichthyology, Marine Policy, Social Sciences, Fisheries, and Water Quality" Changed at 5/12/2006 RAP meeting.

4 Former "Ecology" disciplines changed to "Environment" disciplines, including: Deep-Sea Environment, Estuarine Environment, Nearshore Environment, and Shelf & Slope Environment. Changed at 9/9/2016 RAP meeting.

5 RAP meeting frequency reduced from five to four meetings per year. Changed at 1/13/2023 RAP meeting.

6 Accepted by unanimous vote at 3/8/2013 RAP meeting.


Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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