For over a year, San Diego Coastkeeper has partnered with Global TIES, an undergraduate engineering program at the University of California at San Diego. The program aims to provide non-profit organizations with technical expertise. Since the outset of the partnership, Coastkeeper and Global TIES have worked together to create a technical solution for monitoring local marine protected areas (MPAs) and enforcing the law.
California established new marine protected areas for the south coast region beginning on January 1, 2012. MPAs were created to conserve, protect, and restore California’s marine resources and to promote recreational and educational opportunities. Success of the MPAs will depend on effective monitoring and enforcement, and Coastkeeper has taken responsibility for monitoring three: the Scripps-San Diego state marine conservation area, the Matlahuayl state marine reserve, and the South La Jolla state marine reserve.
Monitoring efforts include MPA Watch. Coastkeeper launched a pilot MPA Watch program in fall 2012 that enlists volunteers to complete surveys of the MPAs. Volunteers record the recreational uses (e.g., swimming, surfing, or fishing) they observe at the MPAs. This data will be valuable to assess the success of the MPAs and to determine effective management and enforcement strategies.
Collecting this data, however, involves a lot of paperwork and tedious data entry. To solve this problem, Coastkeeper asked Global TIES to create a mobile app to streamline the process of collecting data and entering it into a database. Global Ties responded with a terrific effort and achieved a major success.
In a mere ten weeks, Global TIES brought Coastkeeper’s vision to fruition. In early December 2012, the engineering team presented Coastkeeper with a mobile web app that allows volunteers to input MPA use data and pollution issues that will instantly be uploaded to Coastkeeper’s database. Coastkeeper would like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of Global Ties for their impressive efforts on this project: Sharon Chung, Sally Do, David Drabik, Sally Law, James Pitta, Jeff Schell (special thanks for web hosting during development), Josh Sykes, Parry Wilcox, Matt Murbach (undergraduate assistant), Greg Hattemer, and Geno Pawlak (advisor).
Coastkeeper looks forward to building on the efforts of fall 2012 and expects its relationship with Global Ties to remain fruitful. Projects already in the pipeline include further refinement of the app, MPA mapping, an MPA prosecution tracking database, and further efforts directed at enforcement. Together, the efforts of Coastkeeper and Global TIES should help ensure the success of our region’s marine protected areas.