By Reef Check California Director Dr. Jan Freiwald
Reef Check California’s survey season is in full swing. Teams of volunteers all over the state are going out every weekend to survey the reefs and kelp forests along the coast. We just completed our final public trainings for the year and, armed with a very solid group of volunteers, are ready to tackle new challenges. This year promises to become another successful one for RCCA of monitoring established sites and steady growth of our monitoring network.
In June, the California Fish and Game Commission voted for the new marine protected areas (MPAs) in southern California to go into effect on October 1st, 2011. This is exciting news, not only for southern California, but for the entire state moving one large step closer to completing the state-wide network of MPAs as mandated by the Marine Life Protection Act. When these MPAs are implemented, the state’s network will range from San Diego to Point Arena in Mendocino County. More information about the implementation and maps of the new MPAs can be found at the Department of Fish and Game website.
Reef Check will be one of the groups charged with the state-mandated baseline monitoring of these new MPAs! This month the MPA Monitoring Enterprise announced who was awarded funding to conduct this monitoring over the next three years. Reef Check will receive funding to monitor the rocky reefs in this region and will be working alongside several organizations and institutions to establish a comprehensive picture of the state of the ecosystem inside and outside of the MPAs. We are really excited to be part of this monitoring team! RC is now part of the MPA monitoring in all three regions of the state. In the central coast region we are working with our partners and the Monitoring Enterprise on the first five year review of the MPAs. Further north, we are in the second year of baseline monitoring of the MPAs established last year and we will now start the baseline for the new MPAs in the south. For more information on baseline monitoring and other groups involved, click here.
In our sixth year of data collection, RCCA has grown to be one of the key monitoring programs for the rocky reef and kelp forest habitats that California state agencies and marine managers rely on to develop and evaluate management strategies. This success is a reflection of the hard work of all the dedicated volunteers and of the quality of the data they collect. I would like to thank all of you – let’s keep up the good work!