Key Findings from Major Studies of Northern California’s Coast to be Released - Humboldt State Now

Key Findings from Major Studies of Northern California’s Coast to be Released

Project teams will share key findings from the first comprehensive study of northern California’s coastal ocean at a symposium at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center in Eureka on Friday, May 5, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Part of marine protected area (MPA) baseline monitoring, this study covers the North Coast region that stretches from the California-Oregon border to Point Arena, in Mendocino County.

The baseline monitoring projects are part of California’s Statewide MPA Monitoring Program, and were designed to provide a snapshot of conditions near the time the MPAs were established and inform management of California’s coast and ocean. The study period included two years of record-breaking temperatures.

The event is hosted by the Humboldt Marine and Coastal Science Institute and is designed for researchers, fishermen, tribes, nonprofit organizations, students, educators, and anyone else with an interest in the health of our ocean.

Presenters will share key findings from 11 state-funded projects that collected data inside and outside of MPAs on the North Coast, and the results and highlights of the partnerships that gathered data and knowledge on the North Coast. The symposium will also include an integration workshop to discuss ways to build on this knowledge and ways to inform management decisions for the MPA network and the State of California.

California is home to the largest scientifically based network of MPAs in the nation. The network of MPAs in the North Coast extends from Point Arena to the California-Oregon border. Implemented in December 2012, the network includes 19 MPAs, one State Marine Recreational Management Area, and seven special closures, and covers about 13 percent of state waters in Northern California.

Data collection for North Coast MPA Baseline Monitoring began in 2014, following 18 months of collaborative planning with the North Coast community. Coordinated by the California Ocean Science Trust, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the California Ocean Protection Council, and the California Sea Grant, the baseline projects focused on ecological and socioeconomic monitoring inside and outside of MPAs in the region, and encompassed a broad range of ecosystems, including sandy beaches and kelp forests.

Recognizing there are many types of information that contribute to the scientific understanding of marine ecosystems, the North Coast was the first region of California in which ocean monitoring included indigenous traditional knowledge (ITK). North Coast tribes also played an integral role in other baseline projects, partnering with non-tribal researchers to collect data on estuaries, rocky intertidal habitats, and sandy beach habitats.

Other projects included studies of commercial and recreational fishing, beach use, and boating activities. Through these projects, scientists, tribes, fishermen, agency staff, and citizen science groups are working together to help establish a benchmark of ecological and socioeconomic conditions in the region, against which future MPA performance can be measured to guide management decisions about the network.

The Humboldt Marine Sciences & Coastal Institute was formed in 2013 to develop and promote interdisciplinary marine and coastal research, education, and outreach at HSU. The vision of MCSI is to develop a robust community of HSU students and faculty actively engaged in interdisciplinary research on marine and coastal systems.