Dr. Jenn Caselle, a Research Biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara Marine Science Institute, manages a large-scale kelp monitoring program in coastal Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), zones where commercial fishing and extraction are not allowed. The oldest MPAs in the country lie along the Central Coast in Southern California, but the results of her work are most striking when compared with data from across California. “We want to know if there are more and bigger organisms in the MPAs than in their control areas immediately outside,” said Caselle. “Those MPA effects are stronger in the south and get weaker as you go north. And that is almost certainly because the amount of fishing going on in the south is generally way more.” This means that along the Central Coast, areas not designated as MPAs experience the highest levels of fishing. Consequently, it is most important to preserve fish populations in these same areas.