Abstract: The strategic spatial design of the California marine protected areas (MPAs) visually illustrates the importance of a major goal from the law that created them: ‘to ensure that the state’s MPAs are designed and managed as a network’. However, to date, testing the role of connectivity on the function of the network has been a challenging task due to complex interactions between the coastal oceanography with the ecology of local fisheries. Fully assessing the dynamics of the MPA network requires a sufficient understanding of metapopulation dynamics, including larval connectivity, habitat, and fishing. Here we examine how population size and resilience of a recreationally important kelp forest fishery, the blue rockfish (Sebastes mystinus), is influenced by the California MPA network. Using an integral projection population model with larval connectivity estimated from a numerical ocean model and habitat quality set by a species distribution model, we quantified the MPA effects of blue rockfish larval connectivity on population structure, fecundity, and network persistence. We found that (i) blue rockfish were generally more connected among MPAs than among non-MPA sites, (ii) regional subnetworks of persistence emerged, and (iii) several MPAs found around the Monterey Peninsula and in the Northern Channel Islands were identified as high value MPAs through increased larval export and eigencentrality respectively. This work demonstrates that through increased larval connectivity and network persistence, populations may be more resilient to environmental change through the potential to buffer drastic population changes associated with a changing climate.