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In Its 20th Year, Coastkeeper Dives Deep into Marine Protected Areas

  • According to Coastkeeper’s 2018 report, 99% of recorded activities were non-consumptive, allowing marine life to thrive undisturbed
  • Coastkeeper staff member defines boundaries of protected marine habitat through scientific fieldwork
  • Enforcement training workshop this fall will instruct coastal workers to regulate in these areas

As it celebrates its 20th anniversary, Orange County Coastkeeper invests more time, money and love into the region’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) than before. Through an increasingly large MPA monitoring program, a marine protection collaborative group and new enforcement training, Coastkeeper dives deep into protecting MPAs.

MPAs protect valuable marine environments by prohibiting or limiting activities like fishing, oil drilling or development projects. They create safe places for marine populations to grow and thrive, while also providing beautiful destinations for people to enjoy. By maintaining healthy marine environments and species within MPAs, non-restricted waters can offer healthy fishing stocks for sport and commercial fishers.


  • MPA Watch Program: Volunteers monitor human activity in Orange County’s MPAs. These watchdogs receive classroom and field training to guarantee accurate and reliable information, and Coastkeeper sends the recorded observations to the statewide MPA Watch program. The recently released MPA Watch 2018 annual report concluded that 99% of recorded activities were non-consumptive, allowing marine life to thrive undisturbed.
  • Leadership in a collaborative MPA group: Ray Hiemstra, Coastkeeper’s Associate Director of Programs, recently became co-chair for the Orange County Marine Protected Area Council. This collaboration of government officials, academics, consultants and nonprofits work on various marine conservation efforts.
  • Enforcement training for coastal workers: This fall, with the help of the Council, Coastkeeper will host a regional MPA enforcement training for harbor patrol, lifeguards, law enforcement and other coastal workers. The goal is to provide comprehensive, easy-to-understand information on MPAs, where they are and how to enforce MPA restrictions to ensure the marine habitats remain undisturbed.
  • Defining MPA boundaries through fieldwork: Last month, Coastkeeper Marine Restoration Director Katie Nichols led a boat excursion to geographically define the boundaries of Orange County’s seven MPAs. Mapping these areas will provide further education resources for future workshops and outreach.

Mark Nessim, MPA Watch Intern: “Being part of MPA watch helps coastal communities understand the cultural, economical and environmental connections we have with the protected areas. I was surprised to learn that there are seven marine protected areas in Orange County.”

Brittney Martinez, MPA Watch Intern: “Since being an intern at Orange County Coastkeeper, I have learned about the various threats our ocean faces every day. To do my part in collecting data, knowing that it will help ensure the health and sustainability of our marine life, is very rewarding.”

Ray Hiemstra, Coastkeeper Associate Director of Programs: “Raising awareness of the seven MPAs in Orange County betters the community. These coastal habitats are crucial for a thriving ocean ecosystem as well as powering the economy in the area and enjoying recreational activities like fishing, surfing and swimming.”



20 YEARS OF ORANGE COUNTY COASTKEEPER: For twenty years, Southern California residents have relied on Orange County Coastkeeper to be their leading voice in protecting clean water. The organization works collaboratively with diverse groups in the public and private sectors to achieve healthy, accessible, and sustainable water resources for the region. Coastkeeper achieves this through innovative, effective programs in education, advocacy, restoration, research, enforcement, and conservation. Coastkeeper is a member of the International Waterkeeper Alliance, which has 236 different independent programs across 29 countries. For more information, visit or call 714-850-1965.