Definition of A Marine Protected Area (MPA)

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are areas seaward of the high tide line that have been designated by law, administrative action, or voter initiative to protect or conserve marine life and habitat (CA Department of Fish and Game, 2012).

MPAs in California State Waters

California State Law under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) recognizes the three following types of MPAs in California State waters (mean high tide mark to 3 miles offshore):

State Marine Reserve (SMR)

Prohibits all extractive activities, with the exception of scientific collecting under a permit

State Marine Park (SMP)

Prohibits all commercial extractive activities

State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA)

Prohibits some combination of commercial and/or recreational extraction

In Laguna

There are 3 MPAs within Laguna’s city limits:

Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve

The Laguna Beach SMR (red area on the map) is a no take zone that extends south from Abalone Point (Laguna’s northern-most city limit) and north from Goff Island to a point roughly 2 miles offshore

Laguna Beach State Marine Conservation Area

The Laguna Beach SMCA (purple area) is a no take zone that extends south from Goff Island and north from Table Rock to a point roughly 2.5 miles offshore

Dana Point State Marine Conservation Area

The Dana Point SMCA (southern-most blue area) protects tidepools from all disturbance but allows the recreational take of finfish, lobster, and sea urchin and the commercial take of coastal pelagic species, lobster and sea urchin only. The Dana Point SMCA extends south from Table Rock beyond the southern-most city limit in Laguna at Three Arch Cove and north from the Dana Point Headlands to roughly 1 mile offshore.

More Information

For more information visit:
For the history of Orange County MPAs, click here