Wednesday, July 21, 2010

540. Public Session Hosted by "MPA Monitoring Enterprise," Associated with the MLPA (Marine Life Protection Act) Process

Oh yes, another typical hotel meeting room, this time at the Merigot, in Santa Monica, California. Another typical meeting, as on the surface, seems very boring, but the issues discussed, and the minds involved... are very exciting... So, my own mind occupied this hotel room for 5 minutes, and otherwise occupied the conceptual designs and monitoring of south coast marine protected areas!
Same image, black, white, and gray.
As so the recipe goes, core discussion and swaying always seems to happen over lunch, dinner, and at the bar. Never really in the formal meeting process. Wine and cheese schmoozing throughout the entire MLPA BRTF initiative process (first BRTF meeting I thought that all the stakeholder were engaged in some kind of amicable Thanksgiving Feast!). More conversation over lunch in the sheltered ambiance of the Merigot.
Same image, black, white, and gray.
Well, well, where do we start? My brain is extremely anxious because of Comic-con, and despite the start of the conference drastically approaching, Bob Bertelli convinced me to attend and (god forbid) participate in this public workshop designed for discussion on how to set up monitoring for south coast marine protected areas (MPAs). I started stuttering over the phone, "Bob, I've been a keen observer all this time, a bystander, since fall of 2008. Someone intensely watching, recording with camera and film and audio and notes. Now you want me to PARTICIPATE? I'm 28 years old and I have no sea tenure (I barely know how to scuba dive and I've only caught two real fish, with the help of someone else) and my being an academic, I'm an educated idiot!" Bob convinced me that I should have more confidence and I'll have something to contribute, and so I decided to attend... without so much personal pressure to visually document with photography and film.... Which is nice for a change, not to hide behind a camera for once....
I slept in Riverside (my folks house), woke up 5am, hopped in the car at 5:10am, drove for an hour and fifteen minutes to Santa Monica (no traffic!) got to a rather quiet, deserted "Santa Monica ghost town" around 6:30, ran some errands at the closest open grocery store, found a FREE GOLDEN PARKING SPOT one block away from the Third Street Promenade (and a Starbucks Coffeeshop), and by the time I found this parking spot, I couldn't help thinking how I was bound to have a good day, because most of my spare time in Santa Monica in the past was often revolving around traffice and parking... but somehow today, I'm managing to bypass both of these arduous tasks. I ended up taking a long jog at the Santa Monica Beach near by both of Cousin Mike's previous apartments, imagining how Dr. Kennedy was explaining to me the sedimentological history of Santa Monica Beach back in 2006 (I wished I remembered more, I couldn't help thinking how much sand there was!). I also saw a dude who looked like Richard Dawkins (but he was jogging!) and I couldn't help thinking that probably almost everyone I lay my eyes on has a high likelihood of having some form of Hollywood status of "fame" or "nobility producer position." So, whatever. Me and my raggedy jogging clothes. Yay! I'm just a passerby. Bob called me toward the end of my jog, and I rushed back to the car to get all my stuff together, like change clothes while I was driving my car three blocks over to the Merigot. By the time I entered the hotel, I swear I was intrinsically ashamed, because here's my ghetto green Toyota Tercel entering some elitist hotel with lexuses and mercedez benzes wherever you looked. I told the Valet dudes (three of them), "I'm sorry." And the man said, "Ma'am, do not worry whatsoever. The only people who will see your car is us." I was frazzled, as I accumulated all my items, and some door man opened the door as I entered some Microcosmic Hotel where I swear across the street you could see 15 bums and five run-down buildings. Santa Monica is such a bizarre landscape of extreme "wealth and lavishness" in a backdrop of run-down buildings and homeless tweakers and crack addicts and such. I felt guilty for stepping into some kind of manicured Hotel Utopia right next to... normal society.... I don't know how all these MLPA operations can afford having meetings in such well-to-do places. Some other man in suit and tie guided me to the location of the meeting, and then finally I felt better because I spotted Bob and Josh Fisher and a few other familiar faces from the south coast MLPA Regional Stakeholder Group. *Whew.* And a lot of new characters, like a high school teacher from Team Marine, a professor from Occidental College, and a few Chumash representatives, wow, so cool! There was also this really cool dude named Ken Kerns? who is a representative of the Statewide Interest Group and made a few comments ensuring the smoothness of the process. He's a spunky person! And a few faces from way back... like Tom Ford, someone I scubadove with at Malibu, five years ago, when I was at UCLA! Amazing! Tom... is simply... hilarious! A free living, walking, breathing comedy show. Great to be around. So, the world becomes smaller and smaller and smaller, eh?
Bob saved a spot for me right by him and Josh, and I couldn't help to notice the arrangement of the room. A long U-shape assemblage of tables where all the "public participants" sat, with a slide projector, screen to the front, and podium to the side. Another table was placed on the other side, where individuals from "MPA Monitoring Enterprise" sat. I do think that's a scary name for such an operation. "Enterprise" has connotations of entrpreneurship, corporate business operation, though it is a non-profit group consisting of a team of scientists who are contracted by California Fish and Game Commission to set up and establish monitoring protocols without the baggage of stating any management recommendations... except to manage the monitoring.... I wished a better word were chosen beyond "Enterprise," but who am I? An educated idiot grad student, so I have no say in such a matter.
The meeting went from 9am to 5pm, and can be broken down into four sections. First, the meeting organizers provided their schpeal about an overview of MPA monitoring, and how to approach monitoring in the south coast, from an overarching perspective. Secondly, was lunch. Mexican food, fajitas! Yum, yum! And chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter and oatmeal... for snacks! Why don't they ever serve fish at these operations?! Just to be politically correct?! Thirdly, was a breakout session to discuss components of the "ecosystem" in which public members valued and desired to be monitored. We reconvened afterwards. Fourthly, was a breakout session that discussed "designer ecosystem questions," which placed the fishermen in shock because it was the first time we were ever asked to wear the hats of the Science Advisory Team, and ask fundamental questions relating to whether MPAs worked or not. The Regional Stakeholder Group was SOOO used to being "bullied around" by "moving goalposts" of the Science Advisory Team for the past year, and that suddenly we were asked questions such that if we had criteria and parameters for designing and re-evaluating MPAs, what would we do, what questions would we ask, which then, my rambunxious Group 1 asked a string of questions that probably entailed 10-15 potential Ph.D. dissertations.... Now, that was fun! And after these two breakout sessions, we re-convened, and MPA Monitoring Enterprise told everyone they would have another public meeting sometime in October where these meeting notes would be processed and shown to us for further evaluation, and then I said adios to Bob and Josh (who chose to drive out in the 5pm traffic, nutso!) while I zoomed out of that Utopia Hotel and recommuned with the hobos and other regular people on the street. I found another ideal parking spot near by the Third Street Promenade, where I came to enjoy some works of two street performers, and confined myself to the back of a Starbucks, where the line to using the restroom was longer than the line for purchasing coffee (I think that's a good joke for a comedy routine, sad but true). While I was walking along braindead, my mind started to craft a song, "I don't see anyone, going anywhere, anytime soon // so I'm just chilling out, hanging out, making up a silly tune // cuz these silly songs, are th' only means to sanity in the traffic of Hollywood // cuz these silly songs are the silly means to makin' money in the Hole of Hollywood."
As I'm reviewing my notes, I decided to write here some takehome messages of the day from this meeting, as well as ideas for cartoons, concept toys, film clips, and other forms of media. Coming to think of it, this is the first blog I have written about the MLPA process in a year. It's been a while. I think this whole process stresses me out because it's so overwhelmingly huge and that I think I can grasp it, but then again I feel like a little sediment gushing down some river where I feel that the question of control has just gone down to the physical elements and that a single human agent has no... agency.... So? I'll enjoy the ride of process, though I have a purpose, though the purpose is so insignificant, that it has been crushed to process. I'm a meeting body count. Yay (I'm already used to that). Well heck, at LEAST I got to hang out with Bob and Josh and get a free lunch!
**MPA Monitoring Enterprise stated from the beginning that they were taking an "ecosystem-based management" (EBM) approach, including humans, so more of a nested-scale hierarchy, umbrella of monitoring programs. Old news to me... that's the whole UCSB cult... ecosystem-based management, generally, several marine scientists are EBMers now. But but but! This is a misnomer, ecosystem-based management. If the MLPA process were EBM, (1) it would not be housed largely under the Department of Fish and Game (it would be under some new inter-agency umbrella organization) (2) it would have not only restricted fishing, but would have made more effort in waste-sewage issues rather than just "avoidance behavior" of sewage outfalls, aka prescription would have involved simultaneous regulation of ocean inputs and outputs and (3) so? Dangit. I forgot my third point... give me some Time To Think (T3) here....
**MPA Monitoring Enterprise used the "doctor metaphor" for understanding the process. Though it's an imperfect analogy. So, let me try to elaborate (or unpack) this metaphor. The ocean can be considered an organism. The ocean has been diagnosed as "sick" (Jeremy Jackson in summary: "The ocean is going to hxll. We're taking too much out and dumping too much in.") and is "human-induced" (not non-human-induced, like El Ninos and Pacific Decadal Oscillation cycles) and therefore since we caused the problem, and a problem is a problem, if we humans perceive it to be a problem, and therefore the ocean is in a humanly undesirable state, and we humans are responsible, and we humans need a healthy habitat to live in, we need to "heal" and "cure" the ocean (prescription, medication, surgery, aka Designer Ecosystem). Medications and surgeries should curb "taking too much out" and "dumping too much in," which would be in the form of fisheries management, marine reserves, restoration-enhancement sites, and technological/sewage-waste treatment/human population management. The medication we have been focusing on is ONLY MARINE RESERVES, which is of course, non-coordinated with fisheries management and human population-waste management. It's like telling me that we're going to cure cancer but today we're only going to discuss and implement "radiation therapy" without the "chemotherapy" and "diet/habit/lifestyle changes." Ya, so whatever... human-enviromedicine is way behind. We're in stoneage ocean and earth therapy for our own individual and collective benefit, I guess you can say. When an MD imposes a medication, surgery, or therapy on a patient and asks "Does the treatment work?!" then we're in BAD shape... because MD's are supposed to proclaim with certainty "this treatment WORKS X percent of the time." We primordial earth ecosystem prescriptive scientists can't even say for certain "MPAs WORK." Shxt. Oh shxt. But what can I say? Just because you don't know doesn't mean you shouldn't do anything and let things going by. Doing something is doing better than nothing, that is for sure.
Another issue is that different doctors would diagnose the ocean with different levels and scales of sickness, and certain doctors wouldn't even say the ocean were sick, and that the severity of the sickness varies as well--is the ocean in a state of Stage 4 lung cancer or a mild case of bacteria in the ears? Or common cold? I'm sure it's somewhere in between. So, now we have a few thousand doctors trying to prescribe medicine for an ocean that is perceived with different varieties and scales and degrees of severity of sickness. And it's not just a sickness issue, it's a wardrobe aesthetic issue. It's about ocean fashion too. How the ocean looks like, how we crave for our "natural underwater parks" to look like as our Japanese Gardens, designer ecosystems. So, we also have to consider what wig or toupee we're going to put on our marine protected area after it lost all of its hair through radiation treatment. Image is everything, Agassi and Canon Rebel once said. Goes along with our MPAs too. **MPA Monitoring Enterprise also discussed how doctors take a few initial measurements (such as temperature, pressure, and pulse) to serve as diagnostics for human health. The question is, are there a few indicators or diagnostics for the ocean that would likely best represent overall ocean health? How do we take the pulse of the ocean, and how would we construct the notion of a "healthy pulse" or "healthy metabolism of the ocean"?
Expanding the doctor metaphor conversation with a phone call with my father: If environment-related scientists and scholars are to become and embody the doctor MD diagnosis-and-prescription metaphor, then I could clearly say that environmental doctors are in the stone age of medicine and surgery: (1) environmental doctors have no clear-cut hierarchy of diagnosis for a healthy or unhealthy ecosystem (e.g. taking pulse, temperature, and blood pressure, then going from there, there is no magic probe for measuring ecosystem health) (2) environmental doctors don't even know that their treatment will work, let alone have a percent chance of survival (e.g. "Do MPAs work?" is still a QUESTION, not a percent chance of success, like 90% chance of survival post cancer treatment) (3) environmental doctors do not engage in holistic treatment (e.g. control of inputs and outputs, like control of fish take and sewage dumping and landscape enhancement all under the same breath, e.g. right now they are focusing on radiation without the chemotherapy) (4) a wad of environmental doctors all on the same roam would have different diagnoses at different scales with different ecosystem-body components with various degrees of severity of the problem, due to the point of view effect, blind men feeling parts on an elephant, variations in value systems, degree of specialization of disciplines, etcetera, universals in diagnosis are less apparent and less confined contained than with human body medicine (5) environmental doctors do not prescribe treatment strictly for medical-environmental health purposes, collective survival purposes, superflous value systems are also included, such as aesthetic (shallow beauty, stimulating pleasure center, image is everything) and heritage (deep knowledge of a system, Kantian sublime blah blah bullshxt stuff). Which makes diagnosis not survival related but also diagnosis containing a level of aesthetic. Environmental management is like dentistry; certain forms of dentistry operations are for needed survival and functionality for chewing, but many dental decisions are made for image-based purposes, like the color coordination, size and shape of teeth, spacing teeth so that there's no embarrassing gap, etcetera.
**About a year ago, I had a fantastic discussion with Merit McCrea (who whenever I talk to, I feel like I'm talking to a professor and not a fellow grad student, because he knows SOO MUCH STUFF about the ocean, from a fishing AND academic perspective)... so Merit told me this analogy. If you placed a scientist in a black room that symbolizes the ocean, and you gave the scientist a flashlight, what the scientist would do is beam the light very brightly in one spot, with very high resolution. And then he would use some math model to connect the dots for a conceptual overview of how the rest of the black ocean works. Then Merit said, if you give a fisherman a flashlight in a dark room, the fisherman would illuminate the light everywhere such that the entire room lit up, though in one particular, specific area, the light would be grainy, diffuse, and in low resolution, the fisherman would have a rather large conceptual mental map of a region of the ocean, that was generated by experience, not by a math model. And of course, based on the problem and project at hand, they would focus on specific dots at the time, but the overarching "conditions" could never be lost in order to function out in the ocean.... They would know how all the dots connected, in a way that allowed their daily survival out in the ocean, and getting by to catch fish to feed oneself and earn for the family. So hence, we have two types of people learning new things about the ocean world in very different ways, and each has their advantages and disadvantages. MPA Monitoring Enterprises knows they are shining lights on a few very, narrow, bright spots, because that's how science does it, because that's how science has been done before, and scientists are just creatures of habit and historical convention sometimes, and science has not placed any value on those who have a mental map (cognitive map) that can illuminate the whole room, because it cannot be quantified, because science loves numbers. Who does this work of illuminating the whole room? Who tries to construct the narrative of human-environmental change? Historical ecologists and environmental historians--who are placed in humanities and social sciences (largely). But there were none of those at this MPA Monitoring Enterprise meeting. Science does not value holistic experience and narrative, because you can't numericize stories. Stories are stories, they are the spoken words, image, emotions, but of course, no place for that in science, no place for that in monitoring. No one discussed taking oral histories of fishermen as a line of data... I wished I had mentioned that. Oh well.
I thought Merit invented this metaphor of shining a flashlight in a dark room... I must ask him who invented this metaphor now that I have heard it twice, from two very different mouthes. I found out that the MPA Monitoring Enterprise received a dose of Merit McCrea up in Santa Barbara. Maybe they were inspired. :-) One way or another, I need to cite my sources, and since I heard it from Merit first, I'll cite him.
Bob said that fishermen have their high beamers on, scoping the conditions, and over time through trial and error, weed out the distractions and focus on what is pertinent for the project. Scientists on the other hand have no incentive to scope and are invited to dive into a narrow discipline for their entire lives without any justification except for an arbitrary liking of a subject and historical contingency of some specific discipline rather than using instrinsic caveman optimal foraging skills to focus on specific environmental elements. Fishermen think in hourglass mode, whereas scientists are specialized and narrowed into belljars, from my point of view.... Which ultimately explains why I myself like to and kind of need to be around fishermen because my mentality matches their mentality better than those of scientists. I can't make decisions based on historical contingency and arbitrary likings. I need to make decisions because somehow they touch upon the core essence of survival, like catching food for dinner.
**This dichotomized, controversial notion of "consumptive" versus "non-consumptive" uses of the ocean is becoming pervasive in the literature and protocols, as I had first encountered this labeling in a scholarly article by Ecotrust, continued by MPA Monitoring Enterprise. This labeling is (1) grossly oversimplified, dichotomized (2) discriminating and stereotyping, basically anyone who fishes and anyone who impacts the ocean through all other means other than fishing, which includes eating fish that the fisherman fished for that day. I asked an employee of the Department of Fish and Game about the "origins" of this dichotomy and he said he did not know, but though he agreed that there is a gradient of use of the ocean, from consumption to production and waste, there was some level of "utility in classification" such that scientists could collect their data appropriately. Well, that's still not fair, because this "labeling" frames the way how scientists gather whatever desired data in the first place! Argh! Bob Bertelli suggested using the terms "primary and secondary consumptives" rather than "consumptive" versus "non-consumptive." And besides, consumption is not the only way how humans USE the ocean. What about PRODUCTION? Of waste? So, who in the hoo-haa-hey is going to listen to this and overturn and re-organize an entire massive dataset? No one, of course. Do what you keep doing, label how you keep labeling, because it's convenient, and that's what it has been done before, and we need to match the data sets, it's not what is right or wrong or more accurately portrayed. I'm not dxmning any humans, but "Dxmn Incumbency," I do say.
So... in the monitoring section, I recommended that there should be a breakdown of "direct" versus "indirect" impacts of human uses. Ecotrust failed to look at multiplier effects of socioeconomics (analysis "stops at the dock" so they said) and I think that these multiplier effects need to be considered. I also reasoned that in terms of short term benefits and costs, fishermen are directly and negatively affected (but in the long run, may be positively affected), and that all those folks involved in education, tourism, recreation, valuations of natural and historical heritage tremendously benefit, short and long run. It's an easy call to make... a simple conclusion. I don't exactly need to measure or collect data this at the moment.
I think that since benefits and costs of MPAs are highly dependent on the point of view (ie "what is perceived as good or bad is arbitrary, non-Biblically determined, and is highly dependent upon the point of view rather than clear-cut universals" e.g. sea urchin barrens as "good" or "bad"?), that there should be a few separate, independent groups of researchers to evaluate the same data such as to enable some level of control for the point of view effect (hmmm... I think I just had a good idea!). Because, of course, scientists will be a little more eager to show net benefits of MPAs in terms of numbers and sizes of fishies, and of course, fishermen will be a little more eager to show negative socioeconomic impacts of MPAs, it's human nature to have a point of view, and that a few separate agencies should do their own unique analyses such as to enable how data can be intepreted differently based on the point of view. (Expanded conversation with my father: the Point of View POV effect is also similar to the Shifting Baseline Syndrome SBS effect, in which people have evolved different baselines of understanding, focusing on scales in space and time, the POV effect overlaps with SBS, but primarily focuses on how that particular individual relates to and interacts with that particular system, in this case, the ocean. For example, a fisheries scientist funded by NOAA will have a certain special interest on fish, revolving around the agenda of the funding source, and a marine ecologist funded by the Packard Foundation may have a certain special interest on larvae, and a fisherman may have a certain special interest on socioeconomics. Science is not unbiased to POV and special interest. As long as their are specialized disciplines, there is special interest, PERIOD. Science IS politics, PERIOD).
**Concept Toy: Empty cube fish tank and get a bunch of plastic figurines of all the players or "agents" of a California kelp forest / sandy bottom ecosystem. I need to go to some nature store and buy some plastic California ocean toys.... I wonder where I can get this cool stuff? Like Design your own MPA kit?
**Cartoon of the Day: Five years, waiting in line at the University-Mart (Uni-Mart), Fisherman brings in a broken, half-open box that says MPA written on it. Fisherman gives scientist receipt for dozens of thousands of dollars. Fisherman says, "I want to return this product, because still after the five year warrantee, it doesn't work." A fisherman asked at the meeting today, "If MPAs don't work five years from now, can fishermen get their money back?"
**Cartoon of the Day: Ph.D. Question for Fisherman: "How does my blood pressure change when DFG closes off Laguna as a marine reserve?" Ha! Correlating human health with human-environmental / political change
**NEW WORD: Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD), southern California concept, Bob Osborn mentioned, "You gotta have some nature in order to interact with nature." Bob O. is kind of funny. He sounds like Mr. Mackey from Southpark, "Nnh-kay?"
**Another Cartoon of the Day (and NEW T-SHIRT!): Dr. Randy Olson worked with some non-profits to design some campaign slogan for MPAs, specifically during the south coast MLPA process. A bold statement was printed on hundreds (thousands?) of shirts: "MPAs WORK." Alternatively, the beginning of this monitoring session today showed the slide with a big question: "DO MPAs WORK?" And to make it work, Ken Kerns (?) stands up and asks the questions: "Do MPAs work? Do MPAs NOT work? Do non-MPAs work? Do non-MPAs NOT work?" "What defines a successful MPA? Or a failed MPA?" ACCKKK!!! And I was kind of shocked to see this question because here we are, the last year or so, a whole bunch of scientists and stakeholders, with imperfect information and "best available science" trying to make firm decisions on setting the goal posts and designing MPAs, and here are all these monitoring folks who are just taking this entire game of portraying a false illusion of certainty, suddenly transformed into doubt and uncertainty all over again... Intellectually, I felt derailed, as if we were starting from scrap all over again. Starting with a blank slate. Complete creative artistic freedom to redesign the whole universe of marine reserves! *Sigh.* It's was philosophically and artistically... overwhelming, and I think it's a new direction I should take some of the film interview questions. MPA Monitoring Enterprise encouraged the group to consider these questions because once the five-year review is up in terms of monitoring, the data may be telling a very different story than what the scientists and stakeholders originally portrayed during the MLPA initiative process. Blank slate rocks!
**I felt that this monitoring workshop partly failed because (1) this team of scientists who have gone through several iterations of setting up monitoring schematics for several marine reserve systems around the world, failed to educate and inform us ignorant public citizens of what they have learned in their past experiences. This knowledge would have been very interesting to know. For example, they mentioned how goals of marine reserve designation has shifted over time, from specific species conservation to aesthetic landscape more to ecosystem functionality... they must have many other insights beyond this simple, yet profound statement on shifts in marine reserve goals through time (2) this team of scientists failed to provide a holistic "map" of the south coast region in terms of pre-existing agencies-programs either in research, monitoring, management, restoration, communication outreach, etcetera (e.g. SCWIRP, Algalita, Seagrant, Surfrider, non-profit projects, university programming, etc, etc, etc). I see this MPA Monitoring Enterprise doing EXACTLY the SAME exercise that my Ph.D. group from an Interdisciplinary Research Course at Bren (UCSB) was doing when we were trying to set up a collaborative research experiment on how to best restore Chesapeake Bay Oysters. All five of us had to figure out all the pre-existing literature and pre-existing monitoring and management programs in order to effectively make umbrella, hierarchized recommendations (rather than "re-invent the wheel"). We as a group of public citizens would have benefited to know this "map of existing agencies and programs" of southern California that this enterprise was utilizing and plugging into in order for us to make more effective recommendations and considerations in terms of what agencies and groups and programs they were missing out. In other worse, the MPA Monitoring Enterprise did not provide us with a "Regime Profile." I bet my advisor Oran would be pissed they didn't do that either. It's funny though, because when our group finished this Chesapeake Bay project, we all felt like, "What's the point of proposing this research, because so many people are already doing so many things?" Sometimes kinda wonder what's the point of doing a Ph.D, eh? Reminds me of that Nick Drake song, where people say it's not worth singing because everything's already been done and everything's already been said. Well, no one should worry about me, because my Ph.D. encompasses the notion that scientists and scholars have become language-and-number-oriented, and the quesiton is, how would the structure and order of knowledge of human-environmental relationships be re-sorted if one included visualization, acoustic interpretation, and emotion into the slush piles of the ways of storytelling? So, I don't wonder about the "what's the point" because I know my Ph.D. will be interesting, one way or another.
I had a phone call with Bob today and I was wondering why so much information was withheld from the public group meeting. The MPA Monitoring Enterprise wanted to know what we knew and what we valued, but I feel that they didn't do a good job about informing us what THEY knew. And honestly, for me, that's not fair. We learned a lot about the monitoring enterprise team in terms of personality, but I felt like I learned a lot about how much information they were not willing to initially tell us. I'm sure all this monitoring information is going to have to be public... but why not sooner, when stakeholder and public input window is now open... and later... closed?
**Factors to Be Considered with Monitoring... A Suite of Elements of the Ocean Environment are already being monitored, the question is how to organize this monitoring such that it caters toward the MLPA political mandate and revolves around the question "Do MPAs work?" So, does placing a no-take box in the ocean work? And for whom and why? "MPA-CENTRIC MONITORING" so it's called, which has overlap with several other existing monitoring programs. Monitoring needs to be ideal, but also feasible, practical, cost-effective.
**Do ocean factors change or stay the same?
**Human versus Non-human changes in the ocean (el nino cycles, warm-cold water cycles) (abiotic changes--oceanography, climatology, geology, biotic changes--ecological, evolutionary shifts, artificial selection and MPAs, habitat variation, species variation, composition, structure)
**Changes in the ocean associated with human prescription, management versus marine reserves or synergisms with management and marine reserves; changes in size-shape-spacing of reserves
**Human changes (perception and value shifts, behavioral shifts, institutional shifts, bureaucratic shifts, technological shifts)
**How is "conservation" and "consumption" compromised, or are they being effectively compromised by the presence of MPAs?
**Lifestyle shifts of fishermen due to MPAs, e.g. driving costs, port infrastructure shifts, fishing the line, compaction and displacement concerns, benefits of "spillover" effects?
**Individual and public perception / sentiments of the ocean, increase or decrease in ocean awareness
**Levels of impact on education, tourism, degree of recreational use of the ocean
**Effectiveness of enforcement, designnation of SMRs and SMCAs, levels of protection, levels of poaching
**Success of MLPA implementation based on degree of co-management of bureaucracy with local stakeholders (e.g. fishermen, Chumash, other community members)
**How do lawsuits affect the MLPA process (ha ha ha!) someone asked this question!
**Scientists told the stakeholders to avoid oil and gas rigs though Dr. Milton Love's research demonstrates that oil rigs serve as even more effective reefs than neighboring kelp forests. Maybe this SAT guideline based on the "best available science" should be reconsidered.
**Well, Bob? I guess this is the first time I "participated" in an MPA-related activity. And to my surprise, I felt a little bit knowledgable and useful. Bob has somehow over time become my "agent" in which he had freely stepped in and introduced me to nearly everybody in the broader MLPA process (yes, I do have my times when I'm shy and Bob? He has no people fear!). And yesterday, I could say I was Bob's agent at least once. Yay, I'm recriprocating! It was toward the end of the day, and Bob was tired and rambling about something related cold and warm-water cycles (man, a lot of people in this group of public citizens ramble a lot! I have been trained to sell my soul in less than five seconds and tell my life story in less than a minute, haven't people met literary agents or Hollywood Casting Directors before? People have got to learn to say the most with the least!) and then I politely stepped in to tell the MPA Monitoring folks, "In other words, what Bob meant was this--" and one short sentence followed. One of the meeting coordinators told me a little later, "You must have lots of experience with these types of meetings!" And I said, "No, I just know Bob very well :-)." (And I didn't mention anything about the literary agent Hollywood casting director hot seat, oh well). In all honesty though, everyone has a right to ramble when they're tired and it's the end of the day. Period. No one's fault there. I ramble to Bob several times and he puts up with me! Anyway, rambling is a disease (or superhero quality) both Bob and I have, and speaking of rambling... look how LONG this blog is!
**Just to state, the MPA Monitoring Enterprise stated that this workshop does not affect the MLPA planning process whatsoever, but they are just doing a head start, just in case a set of MPAs are drafted by the Commission toward the end of this year, then they will have to kick into drafting a monitoring plan ASAP. I also thought that MPA Monitoring Enterprise introduced themselves in self-deprecation "Pointy-headed staff with Ph.D.s" which I think in a certain way is humbling their acknowledgment of pointy-headedness. I'm even worse: an educated idiot! Ha! The monitoring plan required a public input and public interest component, not just scientific parameters, which of course there is overlap.... The staff also mentioned a $4-million budget from the OPC as a start-up, which can be coupled with other forms of funding from private and public sources.
**Someone made an interesting statement: nothing in the MLPA law states that the six goals have to be fulfilled through marine protected areas, or marine reserves. Wow, that's a CRAZY thought! I am going to have to re-read the goals!

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