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Sunday, December 16 , 2018, 6:33 am | Fair 42º


New Website Tracks Ocean Health Off California

The MPA Monitoring Enterprise announced Monday the launch of OceanSpaces.org, the new web-based hub of scientific monitoring data, analyses and results from California’s network of marine protected areas.

From ecological assessments to socioeconomic analyses of human uses, OceanSpaces provides free, easy access to impartial scientific information on the conditions in and around the state’s MPAs. The site provides data on size, abundance and location of key fish species, where people are fishing and how fishing patterns have changed since the MPAs were implemented.

This information is critical to help us understand current ocean conditions and evaluate the performance of California’s network of MPAs. Visitors can also track the status of the state-funded MPA monitoring effort in each region of the state.

“OceanSpaces is an online community that fosters new knowledge of ocean health,” said Liz Whiteman, program director for the MPA Monitoring Enterprise. “A shared body of scientific knowledge enables us to make informed decisions and becomes the basis for participation in ocean resource management and stewardship.”

The process of planning the statewide network of MPAs was sometimes contentious, but it created a community that wants to stay engaged and informed about MPA monitoring and management: scientists, fishermen, environmentalists, policymakers and citizens.

“Hundreds of individuals, groups and organizations have already joined OceanSpaces and contributed research data, videos and other content,” Whiteman said. “It is great to see the site becoming a place for everyone interested in California ocean science to share information and ideas.”

Early next year baseline monitoring results from the Central Coast — the first region to implement MPAs under the Marine Life Protection Act — will be shared on OceanSpaces using interactive graphics, videos and more. A public symposium on the first five years of MPA monitoring and management in the Central Coast will take place in Monterey in late February.

OceanSpaces is managed by the MPA Monitoring Enterprise, a program of California Ocean Science Trust, which works at the boundary of science and management to provide impartial, cost-effective information about California’s ocean health and the performance of the statewide network of marine protected areas.

— Holly Rindge represents the MPA Monitoring Enterprise.

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