Scripps Institution researcher among those involved in South Coast MPA Baseline Program

Press Release

A Scripps Institution of Oceanography researcher and several others from the San Diego area are among those who will be working on a program to collect baseline information and initial monitoring of the newly designated South Coast marine protected areas (MPAs).

The Ocean Protection Council has awarded $4 million to support the projects, which will collect information for up to three years inside and outside the protected areas in the South Coast region from Point Conception in Santa Barbara County to the California/Mexico border, according to a press release.

The California Fish and Game Commission adopted the South Coast MPAs in December of 2010, as a step toward establishing a statewide network of MPAs, as required under the 1999 Marine Life Protection Act. The MPAs are scheduled to take effect on Oct. 1, 2011.

Kevin Hovel, San Diego State University; Ed Parnell, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego; Doug Neilson, California Department of Fish and Game, will make baseline assessments of California spiny lobster populations, incorporating a collaborative fisheries approach.

Another local person involved is Jan Svejkovsky of Solana Beach-based Ocean Imaging Corp., who will do high-resolution aerial imaging and habitat mapping of nearshore substrate.

They are among the teams of researchers, citizen-scientists and fishermen, will survey the region’s sandy beaches, rocky shores, kelp beds and deep-water ecosystems inside and outside the network of new MPAs. The surveys will include ecologically and economically important species of fishes and invertebrates, as well as a range of human activities, such as commercial and recreational fishing, and “non-consumptive” recreation such as tide-pooling, bird watching and scuba diving.

The data will be used to document changes that may result from the new MPAs, the press release noted.

The South Coast MPA Baseline Program is a collaboration of the Ocean Protection Council, MPA Monitoring Enterprise, Department of Fish and Game, Ocean Science Trust and UCSD-based California Sea Grant. The projects funded through this program were solicited through a public call for proposals and were selected through a competitive peer-review process administered by California Sea Grant.

Other projects, being conducted around the state, include surveys of rocky intertidal ecosystems Integrative assessment of baseline ecological and socioeconomic conditions, Surveys of sandy-beach and surf-zone ecosystems, Citizen-science scuba surveys of rocky reef ecosystems – Jan Freiwald and Gregor Hodgson, Reef Check California.

Also on tap are remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) surveys of deep-water habitats, Scuba surveys of kelp and shallow reef ecosystems, Surveys of seabird ecology and habitat use and socioeconomics and demographics of coastal use.

Further information about each of the projects will be available later this month on the California Sea Grant website at


A map of South Coast MPAs can be viewed at