Last week, WILDCOAST got the opportunity to join Captain Michael Quill and the team from Los Angeles Waterkeeper to experience first-hand their boat-based MPA Watch Program off Palos Verdes. Over the last two years, WILDCOAST has been carrying out a shore-based MPA Watch program in San Diego County, as part of a statewide effort, to understand how people are using our MPAs. Through the project we have trained over 80 volunteers.
Los Angeles Waterkeeper has a similar program, but from a different perspective; taking the surveys from a boat. Their mission is to record how people are using Los Angeles MPAs, specifically off-shore activities, while conducting outreach and education in and around the MPAs. Through volunteerism and friendly outreach this is an excellent way to directly educate and engage community stakeholders.
Most MPA Watch surveys in the state are being carried out from shore. LA Waterkeeper’s boat-based surveys compliments this work and greatly contributes to our understanding of how people are using the MPAs.
During the boat trip we saw many commercial and recreational fishing boats outside the MPA, some very close to the border of the area. We also saw one recreational fishing boat that was directly inside the MPA, which after documenting and reporting the boat, we approached them in a friendly way to let them know that it was a marine protected area and that fishing was not allowed inside that area. The small group of sport fishermen were very receptive and grateful for the information, Michael proceeded to give them informational materials and we were on our way to continue doing more surveys. As we were coming back we noticed the boat had moved to continue fishing outside the area. Definitely the highlight of the trip (aside from the large pod of dolphins that we saw) was seeing Michael directly educate people about MPAs and create positive impact for the health of our oceans.
Thank you Michael and the crew from LA Waterkeeper!
To learn more about the MPA Watch Program and to become a volunteer in your region please go to mpawatch.org.
By Diane Castaneda, Marine Program Coordinator