Research and Monitoring - Recommendations

photo of channel islands and a lighthouse

On March 14-16, 2003, over 100 stakeholders and experts met to design a monitoring program for the marine protected areas proposed within the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS). Forty-six stakeholders and experts participated in the two and one-half day workshop and made recommendations for the socioeconomic component of monitoring.


The recommendations included for socioeconomic research and monitoring for the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS) Marine Protected Areas are the result of the socioeconomic component of the MPA Monitoring workshop. Forty-six stakeholders and experts attended the workshop and developed a menu of recommendations from which the managing agencies will develop a research and monitoring plan.


There is no minimum set of recommendations that could be selected that would make all stakeholders and experts happy. So it will be a great challenge to develop and implement a research and monitoring plan from the set of recommendations included in this report.

The planning team did organize the recommendations into three funding options or scenarios: 1) low cost, 2) medium cost and 3) high cost. What is included in each option is explained in the Summary of Recommendations section of the report. Each of the three cost options includes recommendations addressing a broad set of issues for each user group. Budget constraints may preclude the managing agencies from funding even all the recommendations in the low cost option. In developing and implementing a research and monitoring plan, the managing agencies will be forced to make tough choices. There are a couple of recommendations which the workshop participants thought were must-do’s. The recommendations had to do with the proposed Administrative Structure.

Priority Recommendations

  1. Hire a Social Science Coordinator. Workshop participants thought that this person should be hired under a contract, not a government employee and wanted the User’s Group Oversight Committee to have a say in the selection of this person.
  2. Create an Oversight Committee and a Peer Review Committee. Workshop participants recommended creation of these two committees to give user groups input into the socioeconomic research and monitoring plans and ensure good science through peer review of any proposed projects. The User’s Group Oversight Committee would also aid in developing solutions to proprietary data issues and working with user groups to get cooperation with approved projects.
  3. The SAC Should Review the Current Set of Recommendations and Establish Priorities. The SAC had met pre workshop and developed a list of project topics and ranked them within user groups. Workshop participant recommendations expanded the scope of the SAC’s list of project topics and recommend that the SAC revisit this issue in light of the workshop recommendations.
  4. CINMS and CDFG Should Aggressively Seek Funding Support. Workshop participants recommended aggressive efforts to get CINMS and CDFG funding support as well as efforts to get funding and partnerships with other government agencies and nonprofit groups.

Planning Team Recommendations

  1. The SAC meet and establish socioeconomic measurement thresholds. When a socioeconomic measure exceeds a threshold level, it defines the need for some management action. A management action could include altering a management strategy or regulation or it could include compensation or assistance programs for those negatively impacted by a management strategy or regulation. Socioeconomic measurement thresholds are “social value judgments” and are best left to the political process, for which the SAC is well suited. Social scientists can measure changes in socioeconomic measures, but they cannot make judgments as to what is an acceptable or unacceptable change on particular individuals of groups.
  2. Evaluation of Socioeconomic Impacts must include information on factors other than the marine protected areas. Marine protected areas regulations do not exist in a vacuum. Socioeconomic impacts (both positive and negative) could be due to a variety of factors unrelated to marine protected areas regulations. Changes in regional environmental and socioeconomic conditions may be the cause of changes in socioeconomic measurements. Other management strategies and regulations, along with changes in regional and socioeconomic conditions must be accounted for in any evaluation of socioeconomic impacts. To accomplish this it is important to keep track of efforts in other agencies and cooperate and possibly partner in larger regional studies.