Facilitating Research in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary: Summary of the 2010 Workshop to Inform the Ecosystem-based Management Initiative

Jennifer Brown, Paul Michel, Sophie De Beukelaer, Andrew DeVogelaere, Rikki Dunsmore, Steve Lonhart, Lisa Wooninck
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Facilitating Research in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary: Summary of the 2010 Workshop to Inform the Ecosystem-based Management Initiative (1.8 MB)
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) has embarked upon a new initiative to improve ecosystem-based management (EBM) in the sanctuary by applying best available science and integrating and coordinating with partner agencies and stakeholders. The EBM Initiative has four primary goals:

  • Maintain and/or restore marine ecosystem health, services and function;
  • Ensure protection of unique and rare features;
  • Facilitate research to differentiate between natural variation and human impacts;
  • Facilitate ecologically and economically sustainable uses, including fisheries.
By working collaboratively with partner agencies and stakeholders, information related to these four goals has been and will continue to be gathered and evaluated to identify and implement actions to improve ecosystem-based management in the sanctuary.

To address the EBM Initiative goal of facilitating research, MBNMS staff convened a workshop on October 26th, 2010. The purpose of this workshop was to review existing spatial management, determine how it affects marine science, and discuss what kinds of strategies, if any, could facilitate science that supports ecosystem-based management of MBNMS. For this workshop, existing spatial management was discussed primarily in the context of marine regulated areas. The workshop was attended by 23 members of the regional research community, three fishermen who are collaborative vessel operators during research cruises, three members of the MBNMS Sanctuary Advisory Council's Ecosystem-based Management Subcommittee, four members of the public and 14 sanctuary program staff.

In preparation for the workshop, MBNMS staff requested invited members of the regional research community to answer a brief on-line questionnaire. Twenty-two responses were received. Staff compiled this information and used it to better understand how marine regulated areas affect marine science in MBNMS and the compatibility of various human activities with marine science. This information was also used to help structure the agenda and prepare materials for the workshop. In addition, a summary of responses was presented at the workshop prior to discussion sessions and served as a starting point for those discussions.

Prior to each of the three workshop discussion sessions MBNMS staff provided an overview of the discussion topics coupled with results from the on-line questionnaire. Because there are many different types of marine regulated areas off central California, including three national marine sanctuaries, the first presentation reviewed the location of major regulated areas in or adjacent to MBNMS, the regulations specific to each type of area, and the known or potential impacts of these regulations on marine science. To ensure that participants understood the diversity and spatial arrangement of these regulated areas, participants received three sets of supporting materials (provided in Appendices A-C): maps showing the location of regulated areas in central California; a 'cheat sheet' summarizing information about each type of regulated area (e.g., managing agency, date established, permanence, research permit requirements); and a summary of regulations within each area.

After the presentation, participants were divided into three groups in separate rooms, and independently discussed the same list of topics. The participants discussed how existing spatial management either facilitates or impedes marine science and ways management could facilitate science. The second breakout discussion session focused on how current and emerging human activities affect marine science operations in MBNMS. Finally, a third discussion session brought all participants together and focused on the future of spatial management in MBNMS, including potential impacts of modifications to existing regulated areas, marine spatial planning at the regional and national level, marine science needs of MBNMS, and the role of the scientific community in management processes.

Key findings of this workshop were:

  • Participants found the current spatial management scheme to be complicated and confusing. A more integrated and transparent system of spatial management could facilitate marine science planning and operations in MBNMS.
  • Regulations and permitting requirements of state and federal agencies have both a real and perceived impact on regional scientists and can limit their ability to do marine science.
  • There are science questions that are difficult to pursue in MBNMS given current spatial management (e.g., ocean acidification, impact of bottom trawling, acoustics).
  • Areas are needed where research is promoted to study both applied and basic science questions and, in some areas, to allow for manipulative experiments.
  • Long-term cooperative research sites (e.g., sentinel sites) could serve to protect scientific equipment given sufficient enforcement, and add value by co-locating compatible scientific studies, and sharing equipment and data.
  • Scientists as stakeholders: given the impact that existing and future regulated areas and activities have on marine science capabilities, a number of workshop participants expressed a need for the regional science community to take a stronger role as stakeholders during decision making processes. It was noted that the stakeholder role should be kept separate from the traditional role the scientific community plays as providers of the best available science to inform resource managers.
This workshop was a successful first step in gathering information on how MBNMS can facilitate research in the sanctuary and better achieve the goals of the EBM Initiative. A draft report was made available to workshop participants for comments prior to the release of the final report. In addition, staff has summarized the findings of the workshop in oral presentations to both the MBNMS Research Activities Panel (November 12, 2010) and Sanctuary Advisory Council (December 9, 2010).

Keywords: Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, marine science, research operations, human activities, ecosystem-based management

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