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Master of Environmental Science and Management: Master's Group Project

Environmental Justice, Marine Protected Areas & Ocean Access in California

Group Members: Ariel Daniels, Kennedy Flavin, Morgan Plummer, Melissa Vezard

Faculty Advisors: Anastasia Quintana

Client: Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary



Executive Summary

Final Report



Coastal California is home to a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that aim to safeguard the state’s marine resources and ecosystems. Little is known about who is served and not served by California’s MPAs, with large gaps in environmental justice implications. Our study aimed to investigate access to MPAs across communities in California using multiple lines of evidence, with a focus on subsistence fishers (pier fishers and others who do not sell their catch) who are often indirectly marginalized by MPAs. To address this, we 1) conducted a literature review on equity and environmental justice (EEJ) in California’s ocean management policies, 2) compared time traveled to MPAs for zip codes of different demographics, 3) conducted a literature review on subsistence fishing in California, and 4) compared demographics of subsistence fishers with intensity of ocean-based pollution linked to fished species. Our EEJ literature review highlighted a gap in policies addressing equitable ocean access. Our spatial analysis revealed disparities in coastal access by age, race, and income. Our subsistence fishing literature review highlighted that little is known about California’s current subsistence fishing, though biophysical aspects are better studied than socioeconomic aspects. Our analysis of pollution and subsistence fishing suggested that many subsistence fishers from disadvantaged communities are fishing in areas with high pollution. State and federal agencies can utilize our results to develop effective future management strategies for equitable access to California’s MPAs that take disadvantaged communities into account, especially subsistence fishers, to increase their representation in the decision-making process.


UC Santa Barbara Bren School: Yutian Fang, PhD student; Ashley Larsen, Associate Professor; Lucas Lowe, Undergraduate Student; Jamie Miller, PhD student; Anastasia Quintana, Assistant Researcher

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

Kiki Patsch, Associate Professor, CSU Channel Islands

James S Bower Foundation

NOAA: Tim Frawley, Sea Grant Fellow; Jennifer Selgrath, Spatial Ecologist and Social Scientist

Lindsay Bonito, Senior Environmental Scientist Specialist, Ocean Protection Council

Michael Mantell, Founder, Resource Legacy Fund

Stanford University: Larry Crowder, Professor; Dena Montague, Lecturer

Kristin Prititera-Johnson, Lecturer, University of Washington

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