In 2012, California’s existing network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) was expanded to include 11 protected marine and wetlands areas in San Diego County. Although managed by California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), the MPAs lacked the outreach, monitoring and engagement necessary to ensure their effectiveness at rebounding marine wildlife populations and ecosystems health. WILDCOAST, involved with the development of the MPAs prior to their establishment, quickly became a lead agency in their implementation, working closely with the DFW and other local state agencies, user groups, tribal organisations, elected officials and the public. Fundamental to this work has been the engagement of local youth in MPA education and stewardship. Using its extensive experience mobilizing youth communities in Mexico and underserved areas in south San Diego, WILDCOAST is building the new generation of coastal stewards and advocates across the region, Through citizen science data collection, direct engagement with elected officials, nature-based recreation and education, WILDCOAST has worked with thousands of young people in San Diego and beyond, to grow their knowledge, positive experience and leadership of critical coastal marine ecosystems and wildlife.
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About the speaker
Zach began working with WILDCOAST in 2008 as the manager of WILDCOAST’s Wildlands Conservation Program. Through this role he helped conserve over 330 miles of undeveloped coastline on the Baja California Peninsula. In 2012, Zach expanded his work at WILDCOAST to help manage 17,449 acres of marine protected areas (MPAs) in San Diego County. Through this project, Zach has worked with state legislatures, community groups, scientists, tribal organizations, government agencies and the public to improve the implementation the region’s MPA network.
Before his work at WILDCOAST, Zach travelled the world surfing on the World Qualifying Series between his studies at University California San Diego and University of California Los Angeles where he received his bachelor and master’s degrees in Urban Planning. Zach is a native of San Diego with extensive travel experience searching for waves across Mexico, Central America, Australia and Europe.