Why are Reef Check California surveys important?
Reef Check California surveys provide density and size information on indicator species for rocky reefs in California. This information is crucial for the sustainable management of kelp forest ecosystems. The Marine Life Management Act was passed in 1998 and changed the way living marine resources are managed in California. Previously the California Legislature was in charge of managing the majority of fisheries off our coastline. The MLMA centralized management within the Fish and Game Commission (Commission). The working arm of the Commission is the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) who gather data and provide recommendations to the Commission. The MLMA requires the Commission to make their decisions based on the best science available and take a more holistic or ecosystem-based approach to management. The mandates in the MLMA have caused the DFG to seek more comprehensive information on the fisheries they monitor. They have identified fishery independent indices of abundance, (data collected by methods other than fishing logs, such as scuba surveys) as the highest priority information currently lacking for most species. RCCA protocols provide these data to managers which they can use to fill data gaps and make more informed management decisions.