The Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation (MBSF) serves a crucial niche for central coast MPAs. MBSF partners with others to produce a suite of creative and integrative products that help better manage and conserve marine protected areas (MPAs) along the California coast. The Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation is working with a group of agencies, conservation and education organizations, and individuals are helping to augment and complement the California Natural Resource Agency efforts to make the public more aware of the newly designated network of MPAs off the California coast. The program, referred to as the MPA Education and Outreach Initiative includes many key partners (e.g. Ocean Conservancy, Monterey Bay Aquarium, etc.) and agencies (e.g., CA State Parks, CA Department of Fish and Game, National Marine Sanctuaries, National Estuaries, county parks, etc.)
California is currently engaged in an important effort to establish a system of MPAs- similar to national parks, forests, and wilderness areas on land – to protect and restore ocean habitats and increase the health, productivity and resilience of ocean ecosystems. MBSF is providing critical support to help implement the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). Passed in 1999, the MLPA is implemented by a science-based regional planning process with the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) and California State Parks assigned the lead roles in managing the statewide network of MPAs. The network is being designed sequentially in four coastal sections of the state and San Francisco Bay. Starting with the central coast region, in 2007, and continuing with the north central coast in 2010, fifty marine and estuarine protected areas have been designated from Point Arena south to Point Conception as part of the MLPA.
The MPA Education and Outreach Initiative has created a variety of educational products to connect the public to MPAs in tangible, personal ways. It is anticipated that through better understanding, the public will gain an appreciation for the incredible beauty and wealth of marine resources along our coast. Increased understanding and appreciation will likely lead to more support for the statewide network of MPAs.
The program was launched in the central coast MPA region in 2007. Beginning in 2011, the program will continue in the north central coast and will hopefully expand to the entire California coast once all the MPA regions have been implemented.
The products and programs developed by the MPA Education and Outreach Initiative are available for viewing and download at the California MPA Educational Resources website. Below you will see some of the amazing products that can be used for communicating to a variety of audiences.
A suite of MPA products and templates is available, including:
- Print Publications such as MPA brochures, fact sheets, posters and maps
- MPA Exhibits for use in museums, visitor centers, community forums and events
- MPA Interpretive Panels and Signs installed at various coastal locations near MPAs
- Harbor and Marina Signs with maps of regional and local MPAs,
- Interpretive Film and Video
In addition, the MPA Education and Outreach Initiative has created a number of innovative MPA programs that are helping local agencies inform the public about marine resources and how we can better manage and conserve them. These include:
- Marine Protected Area Educator and Docent Training Programs providing interpretive education, support materials and reference resources for docents and naturalists along the central coast.
- Small Grants Program that provides seed money for many exciting MPA activities at partner organizations along the central coast.
- Facebook community to promote communication and resource sharing among various MPAs.
- MPA Newsletter for MPA staff, docents and interested parties to learn more about programs, products and best practices for informing the public about MPAs.
- YouTube channel for video sharing