The Collaborative Network provides structure for addressing local ocean management needs.

Our Mission

Facilitating the evolution of local collaboratives for effective, transparent, grassroots stewardship of California’s marine protected areas.


Comprehensive Approach

Collaboratives provide a localized, comprehensive approach to ocean resource management by bringing together local experts and authorities in the areas of Outreach & Education, Enforcement & Compliance, and Research & Monitoring.


Offering local partners an active voice
in MPA management.

The goal of the MPA Collaborative Network is to engage experts in local MPA stewardship and management. We provide the information, structure, support, and inter-agency communication necessary to facilitate the creation of collaborative groups that are uniquely suited to local needs.

Collaboratives provide a forum for nonprofits, fishermen, tribal representatives, government staff, municipalities, academic institutions, scientists, teachers, and aquaria to work together to enhance understanding and compliance of MPAs.

Collaborative Network staff work to make it easier for local experts to partner with the state, strengthening connections and facilitating the flow of information between these local MPA professionals and managing agencies, and working closely with California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, State Parks, Ocean Protection Council and Ocean Science Trust.

Collaboratives are a key part of the Ocean Protection Council’s guiding principles for governing California’s MPA network, allowing the state to engage in meaningful partnerships at the local level, leverage resources, and ensure transparency.

Why the Collaborative Network?

California implemented a world class system of 124 marine protected areas in 2012, created through a comprehensive stakeholder-led public process.

Collaborative Network Director Calla Allison saw a challenge moving forward: to ensure locals had a voice in the management of their MPAs.

Allison had served as a stakeholder creating South Coast MPAs, representing the Orange County Marine Protected Area Council - the first group organized to bring together area experts to collaboratively manage local MPAs. Seeing first hand the success of this model, Allison proposed replicating it on a county by county basis.

She began approaching local stakeholders to organize collaboratives in San Mateo, San Diego, and Santa Barbara in 2012, supported by the Natural Resources Agency and Department of Fish and Wildlife, and funded by Resources Legacy Fund.

Local stakeholders and MPA experts quickly planned meetings to identify existing resources and propose projects to increase local awareness of MPAs.

Based on the success of these groups, in 2013 Allison led the development of Collaboratives covering each of California’s coastal counties.

Fourteen collaboratives are now active along the coast, carrying out projects that answer local needs regarding MPAs.

What sets this model apart is the bottom-up, localized, and participatory approach to resource management. Rather than the state providing a structure for engagement, collaborative members develop it themselves. This leads toC more buy-in and resource sharing from local organizations and allows state agencies to respond for requests for structure and input, rather than feeding it from the top-down.

Collaborative Network Staff

Calla Allison, Director

Calla Allison’s interest in localized marine resource management was cultivated over a 16-year career in marine safety along the coast of California.

She began her career as a State Parks Lifeguard and Marine Protection Officer for the City of Laguna Beach. Prior to founding the Collaborative Network she participated in the design of South Coast MPAs as a member of the Regional Stakeholder Group, and served as Staff Director for the Orange County MPA Council.

She is an active bodysurfer, and holds a Master's degree in Pacific International Affairs from UC San Diego.

Want to know more about the
MPA Collaborative Network?
Reach out.


Calla Allison