Since the regulations implementing the network of marine protected areas (MPAs) along the Southern California coast entered into effect in January 2012, Channelkeeper has focused on educating the public about the multiple social, economic and ecological benefits MPAs provide and to monitoring their impact.
This effort includes our MPA Watch program, which trains and engages volunteers to help us record and track human activities in and adjacent to MPAs in the
Santa Barbara Channel.
The data collected by MPA Watch is useful in providing context for and facilitating interpretation of other data being collected to monitor changes in fish populations, while also identifying the social and economic benefits that result from MPAs (e.g., from increased recreation and tourism). The program also aids compliance and enforcement efforts to ensure that MPA regulations are followed.
Volunteering for MPA Watch is a great way to learn more, get involved and spread the word about your local MPAs. Anyone can become an MPA Watch volunteer – it’s easy and fun. It involves walking designated sections of our coast and recording any human activities observed onshore and offshore through standardized surveys. Monitoring surveys take less than 1.5 hours, and volunteers can choose the days and times most convenient for their schedules. Volunteers are simply asked to conduct at least three surveys a month and to follow our designated monitoring protocols. Channelkeeper provides volunteer training, data sheets and all necessary equipment.