MPA Watch is a citizen science monitoring program training volunteers to observe and collect data about coastal and marine resource use inside and outside marine protected areas (MPAs).

Volunteers use standardized protocols to collect relevant, scientifically rigorous, and broadly accessible data. The MPA Watch volunteers will observe and record both consumptive and non-consumptive offshore and onshore activities in and around MPAs, which will improve our understanding of how people are using these new MPAs. Data is meant to inform the management, enforcement, and science of California's marine protected areas, and allows us to track how the public uses coastal areas.

By involving local communities in this MPA monitoring, MPA Watch programs inspire and empower stewardship, and educate the public about California’s ocean ecosystems.

California now leads the nation and the world in ocean protection, ensuring the preservation of ecosystems along the coastline of California.

Not only do local volunteers learn about their coastal environment and become "citizen scientists" and stewards of the area, but they generate quantities of monitoring data that would not be possible under the current state budget. 

The data collected helps us to analyze trends within the boundaries of MPAs, as well as outside of the boundaries, which are used as control sites. Control sites are beneficial in comparing human use in MPAs versus at sites that are not protected.

“...for me there really is just one Hope Spot – it’s the ocean.”
— Sylvia Earle, marine biologist, explorer, author, and lecturer


To learn more about California's Marine Protected Area Watch Program, visit

additional mpa watch program resources

MPA Watch program

More information about California MPAs and how to get involved

California Department of Fish & Wildlife

Ocean Science Trust

The MPA Monitoring Enterprise

Ocean Spaces

Thank You Ocean

Marine Protected Areas are scattered across the entire globe! For more information, visit the MPA Global website