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Central California Marine Protected Areas

Updated March 1, 2016

The central California marine protected areas (MPAs), from Pigeon Point to Point Conception, are one component of a statewide MPA network. Major revisions and additions to central California MPAs went into effect in state waters* on September 21, 2007.

The 29 protected areas in this region (28 MPAs and one marine recreational management area) cover approximately 204 square miles, or about 18 percent of central California state waters. The following table summarizes the area designations managed within the central portion of the statewide MPA network:

Number Type Description
13
State Marine Reserve (SMR) An MPA designation that prohibits damage or take of all marine resources (living, geologic, or cultural) including recreational and commercial take
151
State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) An MPA designation that may allow some recreational and/or commercial take of marine resources (restrictions vary)
1
State Marine Recreational Management Area (SMRMA) An MMA designation that limits recreational and commercial take of marine resources while allowing for legal waterfowl hunting to occur; provides subtidal protection equivalent to an MPA (restrictions vary)

*State waters in the central California region cover approximately 1,144 square miles of ocean, estuary, and offshore rock/island waters.

MPA Regulations and Maps

MPA maps and current regulations are presented here by coastal county. JPG maps are low-resolution files that can be quickly viewed on most computers. PDF maps are higher-resolution files, providing greater detail and clarity. Regulations are taken from California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 14, Section 632.

Note: Map Datum used is North American Datum 1983 (NAD83) and position format is in Degrees Minutes Decimal Minutes (DDD MM.MMM). MPA boundaries shown in these maps do not replace the official boundaries found in CCR Title 14, Section 632(b).

Map of Central California MPAs (all): JPG | PDF


San Mateo County

Año Nuevo State Marine Reserve

JPG Map | PDF Map

Boundary: This area is bounded by the mean high tide line and a distance of 200 feet seaward of mean lower low water between the following two points:

37° 10.000' N. lat. 122° 21.800' W. long.; and
37° 08.725' N. lat. 122° 21.000' W. long.

The area then continues southward bounded by the mean high tide line and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

37° 08.725' N. lat. 122° 21.000' W. long.;
37° 04.700' N. lat. 122° 21.000' W. long.;
37° 04.700' N. lat. 122° 16.062' W. long.; and
37° 04.742' N. lat. 122° 16.026' W. long.

Permitted/Prohibited Uses: It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource.


Santa Cruz County

Greyhound Rock State Marine Conservation Area

JPG Map | PDF Map

Boundary: This area is bounded by the mean high tide line, the three nautical mile offshore boundary and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed except where noted:

37° 04.742' N. lat. 122° 16.026' W. long.;
37° 04.700' N. lat. 122° 16.062' W. long.;
37° 04.700' N. lat. 122° 21.000' W. long.;
37° 03.520' N. lat. 122° 21.000' W. long.; thence southward along the three nautical mile offshore boundary to
37° 02.570' N. lat. 122° 18.963' W. long.; and
37° 02.570' N. lat. 122° 13.989' W. long.

Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

  1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for recreational and/or commercial purposes, with the following specified exceptions:
    1. The recreational take of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) by hand harvest only, market squid, salmon, and, by hook-and-line from shore only, other finfish is allowed.
    2. The commercial take of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) by hand harvest only, salmon, and market squid is allowed. Not more than five percent by weight of any commercial market squid catch landed or possessed shall be other incidentally taken species.

Natural Bridges State Marine Reserve

JPG Map | PDF Map

Boundary: This area is bounded by the mean high tide line and a distance of 200 feet seaward of mean lower low water between the following two points:

36° 57.912' N. lat. 122° 07.650' W. long.; and
36° 57.015' N. lat. 122° 03.504' W. long.

Permitted/Prohibited Uses: It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource.


Monterey County

Elkhorn Slough State Marine Reserve

JPG Map | PDF Map

Boundary: This area includes the waters below mean high tide within Elkhorn Slough lying east of longitude 121° 46.400' W. and south of latitude 36° 50.500' N.

Permitted/Prohibited Uses: It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource.

Elkhorn Slough State Marine Conservation Area

JPG Map | PDF Map

Boundary: This area includes the waters below mean high tide within Elkhorn Slough east of the Highway 1 Bridge and west of longitude 121° 46.400’ W.

Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

  1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for recreational and/or commercial purposes, with the following specified exceptions:
    1. The recreational take of finfish by hook-and-line only and clams is allowed. Clams may only be taken on the north shore of the slough in the area adjacent to the Moss Landing State Wildlife Area.

Moro Cojo Slough State Marine Reserve

JPG Map | PDF Map

Boundary: This area includes the waters within Moro Cojo Slough below mean high tide and east of the Highway 1 Bridge and west of the crossing of the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks.

Permitted/Prohibited Uses: It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource.

Soquel Canyon State Marine Conservation Area

JPG Map | PDF Map

Boundary: This area is bounded by straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

36° 51.000' N. lat. 121° 56.000' W. long.;
36° 51.000' N. lat. 122° 03.652' W. long.;
36° 48.000' N. lat. 122° 02.767' W. long.;
36° 48.000' N. lat. 121° 56.000' W. long.; and
36° 51.000' N. lat. 121° 56.000' W. long.

Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

  1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for recreational and/or commercial purposes, with the following specified exceptions:
    1. The commercial and recreational take of pelagic finfish is allowed. Not more than five percent by weight of any commercial pelagic finfish catch landed or possessed shall be other incidentally taken species.

Portuguese Ledge State Marine Conservation Area

JPG Map | PDF Map

Boundary: This area is bounded by straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

36° 43.000' N. lat. 121° 56.000' W. long.;
36° 43.000' N. lat. 122° 01.294' W. long.;
36° 41.000' N. lat. 122° 00.706' W. long.;
36° 41.000' N. lat. 121° 56.000' W. long.; and
36° 43.000' N. lat. 121° 56.000' W. long.

Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

  1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for recreational and/or commercial purposes, with the following specified exceptions:
    1. The commercial and recreational take of pelagic finfish is allowed. Not more than five percent by weight of any commercial pelagic finfish catch landed or possessed shall be other incidentally taken species.

Edward F. Ricketts State Marine Conservation Area

JPG Map | PDF Map

Boundary: This area is bounded by the mean high tide line and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

36° 36.508' N. lat. 121° 53.379' W. long.;
36° 37.250' N. lat. 121° 53.780' W. long.; and
36° 37.100' N. lat. 121° 54.093' W. long.

Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

  1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for recreational and/or commercial purposes, with the following specified exceptions:
    1. The recreational take of finfish by hook-and-line is allowed.
    2. The commercial take of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) and bull kelp (Nereocystis spp.) is allowed by hand in the area defined by sub-section 165(c)(4)(D) under the following conditions:
      • A kelp harvester with a valid license issued pursuant to Section 165 may take no more than 12 tons of kelp from the portion of Administrative Kelp Bed 220 within the Edward F. Ricketts State Marine Conservation Area in any calendar month.
      • Duplicate landing records must be kept on board the harvest vessel in accordance with the requirements of Section 165.

Lovers Point-Julia Platt State Marine Reserve

Formerly known as Lovers Point State Marine Reserve

JPG Map | PDF Map

Boundary: This area is bounded by the mean high tide line and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

36° 37.100' N. lat. 121° 54.093' W. long.;
36° 37.250' N. lat. 121° 53.780' W. long.;
36° 37.380' N. lat. 121° 53.850' W. long.;
36° 37.600' N. lat. 121° 54.750' W. long.; and
36° 37.600' N. lat. 121° 54.919' W. long.

Permitted/Prohibited Uses: It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological,
or cultural marine resource.

Pacific Grove Marine Gardens State Marine Conservation Area

JPG Map | PDF Map

Boundary: This area is bounded by the mean high tide line and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

36° 37.600' N. lat. 121° 54.919' W. long.;
36° 37.600' N. lat. 121° 54.750' W. long.;
36° 38.700' N. lat. 121° 55.400' W. long.;
36° 38.900' N. lat. 121° 56.600' W. long.;
36° 38.314' N. lat. 121° 56.292' W. long.; and
36° 38.226' N. lat. 121° 56.159' W. long.

Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

  1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for recreational and/or commercial purposes, with the following specified exceptions:
    1. The recreational take of finfish is allowed.
    2. The commercial take of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) and bull kelp (Nereocystis spp.) by hand is allowed under the following conditions:
      • A kelp harvester with a valid license issued pursuant to Section 165 may take no more than 44 tons of kelp from the portion of Administrative Kelp Bed 220 within the Pacific Grove Marine Gardens State Marine Conservation Area in any calendar month.
      • Duplicate landing records must be kept on board the harvest vessel in accordance with the requirements of Section 165.

Asilomar State Marine Reserve

JPG Map | PDF Map

Boundary: This area is bounded by the mean high tide line and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

36° 38.226' N. lat. 121° 56.159' W. long.;
36° 38.314' N. lat. 121° 56.292' W. long.;
36° 38.900' N. lat. 121° 56.600' W. long.; and
36° 36.554' N. lat. 121° 57.518' W. long.

Permitted/Prohibited Uses: It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource.

Carmel Pinnacles State Marine Reserve

JPG Map | PDF Map

Boundary: This area is bounded by straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

36° 33.650' N. lat. 121° 57.600' W. long.;
36° 33.650' N. lat. 121° 58.500' W. long.;
36° 33.100' N. lat. 121° 58.500' W. long.;
36° 33.100' N. lat. 121° 57.600' W. long.; and
36° 33.650' N. lat. 121° 57.600' W. long.

Permitted/Prohibited Uses: It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource.

Carmel Bay State Marine Conservation Area

JPG Map | PDF Map

Boundary: This area is bounded by the mean high tide line and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

36° 33.663' N. lat. 121° 57.117' W. long.;
36° 31.700' N. lat. 121° 56.300' W. long.; and
36° 31.700' N. lat. 121° 55.550' W. long.

Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

    1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for recreational and/or commercial purposes, with the following specified exceptions:
      1. The recreational take of finfish is allowed.
      2. The commercial take of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) and bull kelp (Nereocystis spp.) by hand is allowed under the following conditions:
        • A kelp harvester with a valid license issued pursuant to Section 165 may take no more than 44 tons of kelp from the portion of Administrative Kelp Bed 219 within the Carmel Bay State Marine Conservation Area in any calendar month.
        • Duplicate landing records must be kept on board the harvest vessel in accordance with the requirements of Section 165.

    Point Lobos State Marine Reserve

    JPG Map | PDF Map

    Boundary: This area is bounded by the mean high tide line and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

    36° 31.700' N. lat. 121° 55.550' W. long.;
    36° 31.700' N. lat. 121° 58.250' W. long.;
    36° 28.880' N. lat. 121° 58.250' W. long.; and
    36° 28.880' N. lat. 121° 56.285' W. long.

    Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

    1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource.
    2. Within the portion of the Point Lobos State Marine Reserve which also falls within the boundary of the Point Lobos State Reserve (State Park Unit), restrictions on boating and diving activities exist. Contact the California Department of Parks and Recreation for current restrictions.

    Point Lobos State Marine Conservation Area

    JPG Map | PDF Map

    Boundary: This area is bounded by straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed except where noted:

    36° 31.700' N. lat. 121° 58.250' W. long.;
    36° 31.700' N. lat. 122° 01.267' W. long.; thence southward along the three nautical mile offshore boundary to
    36° 28.880' N. lat. 122° 00.490' W. long.;
    36° 28.880' N. lat. 121° 58.250' W. long.; and
    36° 31.700' N. lat. 121° 58.250' W. long.

    Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

    1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for recreational and/or commercial purposes, with the following specified exceptions:
      1. The recreational take of salmon and albacore is allowed.
      2. The commercial take of salmon, albacore, and spot prawn is allowed.

    Point Sur State Marine Reserve

    JPG Map | PDF Map

    Boundary: This area is bounded by the mean high tide line and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

    36° 18.400' N. lat. 121° 54.150' W. long.;
    36° 18.400' N. lat. 121° 56.000' W. long.;
    36° 15.000' N. lat. 121° 52.500' W. long.; and
    36° 15.000' N. lat. 121° 50.250' W. long.

    Permitted/Prohibited Uses: It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource.

    Point Sur State Marine Conservation Area

    JPG Map | PDF Map

    Boundary: This area is bounded by straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed except where noted:

    36° 18.400' N. lat. 121° 56.000' W. long.;
    36° 18.400' N. lat. 121° 57.932' W. long.; thence southward along the three nautical mile offshore boundary to
    36° 15.000' N. lat. 121° 55.955' W. long.;
    36° 15.000' N. lat. 121° 52.500' W. long.; and
    36° 18.400' N. lat. 121° 56.000' W. long.

    Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

    1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for recreational and/or commercial purposes, with the following specified exceptions:
      1. The commercial and recreational take of salmon and albacore is allowed.

    Big Creek State Marine Reserve

    JPG Map | PDF Map

    Boundary: This area is bounded by the mean high tide line and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed except where noted:

    36° 07.200' N. lat. 121° 37.968' W. long.;
    36° 07.200' N. lat. 121° 39.000' W. long.;
    36° 05.200' N. lat. 121° 38.000' W. long.;
    36° 05.200' N. lat. 121° 41.222' W. long.; thence southward along the three nautical mile offshore boundary to
    36° 02.650' N. lat. 121° 39.654' W. long.; and
    36° 02.650' N. lat. 121° 35.130' W. long.

    Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

    1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource.
    2. Anchoring. Except as pursuant to Federal law or emergency caused by hazardous weather, it is unlawful to anchor or moor a vessel in waters shallower than 10 fathoms in the Big Creek State Marine Reserve.

    Big Creek State Marine Conservation Area

    JPG Map | PDF Map

    Boundary: This area is bounded by the three nautical mile offshore boundary and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed except where noted:

    36° 07.200' N. lat. 121° 39.000' W. long.;
    36° 07.200' N. lat. 121° 42.869' W. long.; thence southward along the three nautical mile offshore boundary to
    36° 05.200' N. lat. 121° 41.222' W. long.;
    36° 05.200' N. lat. 121° 38.000' W. long.; and
    36° 07.200' N. lat. 121° 39.000' W. long.

    Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

    1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for recreational and/or commercial purposes, with the following specified exceptions:
      1. The recreational take of salmon and albacore is allowed.
      2. The commercial take of salmon, albacore, and spot prawn is allowed.

    San Luis Obispo County

    Piedras Blancas State Marine Reserve

    JPG Map | PDF Map

    Boundary: This area is bounded by the mean high tide line and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

    35° 42.850' N. lat. 121° 18.950' W. long.;
    35° 42.850' N. lat. 121° 21.000' W. long.;
    35° 39.150' N. lat. 121° 18.500' W. long.; and
    35° 39.150' N. lat. 121° 14.519' W. long.

    Permitted/Prohibited Uses: It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource.

    Piedras Blancas State Marine Conservation Area

    JPG Map | PDF Map

    Boundary: This area is bounded by straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed except where noted:

    35° 42.850' N. lat. 121° 21.000' W. long.;
    35° 42.850' N. lat. 121° 22.763' W. long.; thence southward along the three nautical mile offshore boundary to
    35° 39.150' N. lat. 121° 20.913' W. long.;
    35° 39.150' N. lat. 121° 18.500' W. long.; and
    35° 42.850' N. lat. 121° 21.000' W. long.

    Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

    1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for recreational and/or commercial purposes, with the following specified exceptions:
      1. The commercial and recreational take of salmon and albacore is allowed.

    Cambria State Marine Conservation Area and State Marine Park

    JPG Map | PDF Map

    * Cambria State Marine Conservation Area was also designated Cambria State Marine Park by the California State Park and Recreation Commission in August, 2010. The two areas share the same boundaries; no additional take regulations have been adopted at this time. Contact the California Department of Parks and Recreation for more information about the State Marine Park.

    Boundary: This area is bounded by the mean high tide line and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

    35° 37.100' N. lat. 121° 09.225' W. long.;
    35° 37.100' N. lat. 121° 10.700' W. long.;
    35° 32.850' N. lat. 121° 06.700' W. long.; and
    35° 32.850' N. lat. 121° 05.855' W. long.

    Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

    1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for recreational and/or commercial purposes, with the following specified exceptions:
      1. Recreational take is allowed.

    White Rock State Marine Conservation Area

    JPG Map | PDF Map

    Boundary: This area is bounded by the mean high tide line and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

    35° 32.850' N. lat. 121° 05.855' W. long.;
    35° 32.850' N. lat. 121° 06.700' W. long.;
    35° 30.500' N. lat. 121° 05.000' W. long.; and
    35° 30.500' N. lat. 121° 03.423' W. long.

    Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

    1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for recreational and/or commercial purposes, with the following specified exceptions:
      1. The commercial take of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) and bull kelp (Nereocystis spp.) is allowed under the following conditions:
        • A kelp harvester with a valid license issued pursuant to Section 165 and holding a valid lease to Administrative Kelp Bed 208 may take no more than 125 tons of kelp from the portion of Administrative Kelp Bed 208 within the White Rock State Marine Conservation Area in any calendar month.
        • Duplicate landing records must be kept on board the harvest vessel in accordance with the requirements of Section 165.

    Morro Bay State Marine Recreational Management Area

    JPG Map | PDF Map

    Boundary: This area includes the area below mean high tide within Morro Bay east of the Morro Bay entrance breakwater and west of longitude 120° 50.340' W.

    Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

    1. It is unlawful to perform any activity that would compromise the recreational values for which the area may be designated. Recreational opportunities may be protected, enhanced, or restricted, while preserving basic resource values of the area, with the following specified exceptions:
      1. Recreational hunting of waterfowl is allowed unless otherwise restricted by hunting regulations (sections 502, 550, 551, and 552).
      2. Take of all living marine resources is prohibited except the following activities are allowed north of latitude 35° 19.700’ N :
        • The recreational take of finfish.
        • Aquaculture of oysters, pursuant to a valid State water bottom lease and permit.
        • Storing finfish taken outside the Morro Bay State Marine Recreational Management Area in a receiver for bait purposes.
        • Dredging for the purpose of harbor and channel operations and pursuant to required and valid permits and approvals.
        • Harbor operations and maintenance and cleaning of vessel hulls and other man-made structures, including removal of living marine resources for these purposes.

    Morro Bay State Marine Reserve

    JPG Map | PDF Map

    Boundary: This area includes the area below mean high tide line within Morro Bay east of longitude 120° 50.340' W.

    Permitted/Prohibited Uses: It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource.

    Point Buchon State Marine Reserve

    JPG Map | PDF Map

    Boundary: This area is bounded by the mean high tide line and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

    35° 15.250' N. lat. 120° 53.817' W. long.;
    35° 15.250' N. lat. 120° 56.000' W. long.;
    35° 11.000' N. lat. 120° 52.400' W. long.; and
    35° 13.348' N. lat. 120° 52.400' W. long.

    Permitted/Prohibited Uses: It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource.

    Point Buchon State Marine Conservation Area

    JPG Map | PDF Map

    Boundary: This area is bounded by straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed except where noted:

    35° 15.250' N. lat. 120° 56.000' W. long.;
    35° 15.250' N. lat. 120° 57.878' W. long.; thence southward along the three nautical mile offshore boundary to
    35° 11.000' N. lat. 120° 55.149' W. long.;
    35° 11.000' N. lat. 120° 52.400' W. long.; and
    35° 15.250' N. lat. 120° 56.000' W. long.

    Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

    1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for recreational and/or commercial purposes, with the following specified exceptions:
      1. The commercial and recreational take of salmon and albacore is allowed.

    Santa Barbara County

    Vandenberg State Marine Reserve

    JPG Map | PDF Map

    Boundary: This area is bounded by the mean high tide line and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

    34° 44.650' N. lat. 120° 37.750' W. long.;
    34° 44.650' N. lat. 120° 40.000' W. long.;
    34° 33.250' N. lat. 120° 40.000' W. long.; and
    34° 33.250' N. lat. 120° 37.407' W. long.

    Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

    1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource, with the following specified exceptions:
      1. Take incidental to base operations and commercial space launch operations identified by the Vandenberg Air Force Base Commander as mission critical is allowed.
      2. Public Entry. Public entry into the Vandenberg State Marine Reserve may be restricted at the discretion of the Department to protect wildlife, aquatic life, or habitat, or by the Commander of Vandenberg Air Force Base to protect and provide safety for base operations.
      3. The Department shall enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Commander of Vandenberg Air Force Base for the mutually beneficial management and administration of the Vandenberg State Marine Reserve. The MOU shall include, but not be limited to, the identification of Vandenberg Air Force Base’s national defense mission activities that are unrestricted by the subject regulations and details on management and administrative roles and responsibilities.

    Definitions: Take, Finfish, Pelagic Finfish, and Coastal Pelagic Species

    Take (Fish and Game Code, Section 86) means hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill, or attempt to hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill. ("Take" is also defined in CCR Title 14, Section 1.80)

    Finfish (CCR Title 14, Section 632(a)(2)), as defined for purposes of MPA regulations, are any species of bony fish or cartilaginous fish (sharks, skates and rays). Finfish do not include amphibians, invertebrates, plants or algae.

    Pelagic finfish (CCR Title 14, Section 632(a)(3)), as defined for purposes of MPA regulations, are a subset of finfish defined as: northern anchovy (Engraulis mordax), barracudas (Sphyraena spp.), billfishes* (family Istiophoridae), dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus), Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii), jack mackerel (Trachurus symmetricus), Pacific mackerel (Scomber japonicus), salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.), Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax), blue shark (Prionace glauca), salmon shark (Lamna ditropis), shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus), thresher sharks (Alopias spp.), swordfish (Xiphias gladius), tunas (family Scombridae), including Pacific bonito (Sarda chiliensis), and yellowtail (Seriola lalandi). *Marlin is not allowed for commercial take.

    Coastal pelagic species (CCR Title 14, Section 1.39), as defined for purposes of MPA regulations, include the following: northern anchovy (Engraulis mordax), Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax), Pacific mackerel (Scomber japonicus), jack mackerel (Trachurus symmetricus) and market squid (Doryteuthis (Loligo) opalescens).

    Surf Smelt (CCR Title 14, Section 28.45)
    (Night Smelt, Day Fish, Whitebait Smelt)
    Limit: Twenty-five pounds in combination


    Definitions: MPA Network Areas

    State Marine Reserve (CCR Title 14, Section 632(a)(1)(A)): In a State Marine Reserve, it is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource, except under a scientific collecting permit issued by the department pursuant to Section 650 or specific authorization from the commission for research, restoration, or monitoring purposes.

    State Marine Park (CCR Title 14, Section 632(a)(1)(B)): In a State Marine Park, it is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living or nonliving marine resource for commercial purposes. Any human use that would compromise protection of the species of interest, natural community or habitat, or geological, cultural, or recreational features, may be restricted by the commission as specified in individual MPA regulations. The department may issue scientific collecting permits pursuant to Section 650. The commission may authorize research, monitoring, and educational activities and certain recreational harvest in a manner consistent with protecting resource values.

    State Marine Conservation Area (CCR Title 14, Section 632(a)(1)(C)): In a State Marine Conservation Area, it is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for commercial or recreational purposes, or a combination of commercial and recreational purposes except as specified in individual MPA regulations. The department may issue scientific collecting permits pursuant to Section 650. The commission may authorize research, education, and recreational activities, and certain commercial and recreational harvest of marine resources, provided that these uses do not compromise protection of the species of interest, natural community, habitat, or geological features.

    State Marine Recreational Management Area (CCR Title 14, Section 632(a)(1)(D)): In a State Marine Recreational Management Area, it is unlawful to perform any activity that would compromise the recreational values for which the area may be designated. Recreational opportunities may be protected, enhanced, or restricted, while preserving basic resource values of the area. No other use is restricted unless specified in individual MPA regulations.

    Special Closure: An area designated by the Fish and Game Commission that prohibits access or restricts boating activities in waters adjacent to sea bird rookeries or marine mammal haul-out sites (restrictions vary).


    General Rules that Apply to All MPAs

    Access (CCR Title 14, Section 632(a)(4))

    Access into marine protected areas or marine managed areas for non-consumptive uses including but not limited to swimming, surfing, diving, boating, hiking and walking is allowed unless otherwise specified in individual MPA regulations.

    Introduction of Species (CCR Title 14, Section 632(a)(5))

    Unless authorized by the commission or as a result of authorized fishing activities, the release of any fish or wildlife species, including domestic or domesticated species, or the introduction of any plant species, is prohibited. The department may reintroduce endemic species to marine protected areas or marine managed areas for management purposes.

    Feeding of Fish and Wildlife (CCR Title 14, Section 632(a)(6))

    The feeding of fish and wildlife is prohibited except permitted scientific collection pursuant to Section 650 or as a result of authorized fishing within state marine conservation areas, state marine parks, and state marine recreational management areas, or unless feeding of fish is specifically authorized in individual MPA regulations for purposes of marine life viewing.

    Anchoring (CCR Title 14, Section 632(a)(7))

    Vessels shall be allowed to anchor in any marine protected area or marine managed area with catch onboard unless otherwise specified in individual MPA regulations. Fishing gear shall not be deployed in the water while anchored in a state marine reserve. Fishing gear, except legal fishing gear used to take species identified as allowed for take in individual MPA regulations, shall not be deployed in the water while anchored in a state marine recreational management area, state marine park or state marine conservation area. Anchoring regulations shall be consistent with federal law and allowances made for anchoring required by emergency or severe weather.

    Transit or Drifting (CCR Title 14, Section 632(a)(8))

    Vessels shall be allowed to transit through MPAs and marine managed areas (MMAs) with catch onboard. Fishing gear shall not be deployed in the water while transiting through a state marine reserve. Fishing gear, except legal fishing gear used to take species identified as allowed for take in individual MPA regulations, shall not be deployed in the water while transiting through a state marine recreational management area, state marine park or state marine conservation area.

    Spearfishermen with or without catch shall be allowed to transit through MPAs and MMAs. While transiting areas that prohibit spearfishing or while in possession of species not identified as allowed for take in the area being transited, spearfishing gear shall be in an unloaded condition, not carried in hand, and the diver shall remain at the surface.

    Water Quality Monitoring (CCR Title 14, Section 632(a)(9))

    Sampling of water, sediment and marine life, for water quality monitoring or pollution research, or as required in a Monitoring and Reporting Program of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit and Waste Discharge Requirements issued by the State or Regional Water Boards pursuant to the United States Clean Water Act and the California Water Code, is allowed within state marine reserves, state marine conservation areas, state marine parks, and state marine recreational management areas pursuant to a valid scientific collecting permit issued by the department.

    Public Safety (CCR Title 14, Section 632(a)(10))

    Public safety activities, including installation, maintenance and/or seasonal placement and removal of safety-related artificial structures, including but not limited to lifeguard towers, are allowed within any MPA classification pursuant to any required federal, state and local permits, or as otherwise authorized by the department.

    Tribal Take (CCR Title 14, Section 632(a)(11))

    "Federally recognized tribe" means any tribe on the List of Indian Entities Recognized and Eligible to Receive Services from the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs, published annually in the Federal Register. Any member of a federally recognized tribe authorized to take living marine resources from an area with area-specific take restrictions in individual MPA regulations, when engaging in take within an authorized area shall possess on his person, in his immediate possession, or where otherwise specifically required by law to be kept, any valid license, report card, tag, stamp, validation, permit, or any other entitlement that is required in the Fish and Game Code, or required by other state, federal, or local entities, in order to take living marine resources. Members shall possess a valid photo identification card issued by a federally recognized tribe that contains expiration date, tribal name, tribal member number, name, signature, date of birth, height, color of eyes, color of hair, weight, and sex; and display any of the items listed above upon demand to any peace officer. Members taking living marine resources under this provision are subject to current seasonal, bag, possession, gear and size limits in existing Fish and Game Code statutes and regulations of the Commission, except as otherwise provided for in individual MPA regulations. No member, while taking living marine resources, may be assisted by any person who does not possess a valid tribal identification card and is not properly licensed to take living marine resources. Nothing in the regulation is intended to conflict with, or supersede, any state or federal law regarding the take of protected, threatened or endangered species.

    Shore Fishing (CCR Title 14, Section(a)(12))

    Take from shore, or shore fishing, means take of living marine resources from shore, including beaches, banks, piers, jetties, breakwaters, docks, and other man-made structures connected to the shore. Unless specifically authorized in individual MPA regulations, no vessel, watercraft (motorized or non-motorized), or floating device may be used to assist in the take, transport or possession of species taken while shore fishing, except that a float tube or similar flotation device may be used when taking abalone only.



    Marine Region (Region 7)
    Regional Manager: Dr. Craig Shuman
    Main Office: 20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Suite 100, Monterey, CA  93940
    AskMarine@wildlife.ca.gov  |  (831) 649-2870
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    Central California MPAs
    Central California MPAs


    California's MPA Network

    California's MPA network uses different marine managed area (MMA) classifications. These classifications are defined in the Marine Managed Areas Improvement Act, which is used to designate marine areas intended to protect, conserve, or otherwise manage a variety of resources and their uses including living marine resources and their habitats, scenic views, water quality, recreational values, and cultural or geological resources. MPAs are primarily intended to protect or conserve marine life and habitat, and are a subset of MMAs.

    California's MPA network includes three MPA designations (State Marine Reserve, State Marine Conservation Area, and State Marine Park) and one additional MMA designation (State Marine Recreational Management Area); special closure areas, established by the Fish and Game Commission, are also managed within the California MPA network.