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Our MPA Watch volunteers help us accomplish our important mission to protect water resources and our local environment. MPA Watch volunteers monitor all human activities in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) including walking, fishing, swimming, surfing, boating, diving and interacting with local tide pools.

We’re excited to share photos and experiences from Jessica, one of our former MPA Watch volunteers.

What is an MPA?

Did you know that less than 1 percent of the world’s ocean is under any protection? Luckily, we have about 50 marine protected areas (MPAs) and 2 special closure areas in Southern California implemented by the Marine Life Protection Act in 2012.

Why are MPAs important?

MPAs can protect the diversity and abundance of marine life, the habitats they depend on, and enhance the resilience of marine ecosystems.

Coastkeeper is currently a member of the Orange County Marine Protected Area Council which is a collaboration among organizations to discuss improvements in research, education, and compliance to promote and protect the MPAs in Orange County.

Meet Jessica

Jessica Ballard is a former MPA Watch Volunteer and marine debris intern who dedicated her time to educating the public and protecting our shared environment.

“As an intern with OC Coastkeeper, I have the opportunity to conduct MPA watch surveys which is a monitoring program to observe and collect data on human uses of coastal and marine resources. I also work to educate the public about MPA regulations in Southern California. In addition, I conduct my own undergraduate research as a student at Cal State Fullerton across protected rocky intertidal zones in Orange County and Point Fermin, which is a non-protected area. I worked with Dr. Jennifer Burnaford on this intertidal undergraduate research project.

During my experience, I’ve found that protected beaches have a higher abundance of organisms and algal growth when compared to non-protected beaches. This has demonstrated to me the potential effectiveness MPAs can have. An MPA can not only decrease any disturbances that can affect an organism’s growth and reproduction, but can also help to provide a cleaner and sustainable environment for future generations.”

Interested in protecting our shared environment?

We’re always in need of volunteers to help us keep Orange County waters fishable, swimmable and drinkable for all. For more information about MPAs or to volunteer as an MPA Watch team member, click here.