Beaches, Bays and MPAs: Part I

Have you visited one of Orange County’s Marine Protected Areas yet?

Blood-star-Point-Lobos-Steve-Lonhart-NOAA-MBNMS-1-300x200_MPA.jpgIf you have been to the ocean or one of its estuaries during the past few years, you might have enjoyed one or more Marine Protected Areas without being aware of it. Crystal Cove, Bolsa Chica, Upper Newport Bay, Dana Point, and all of Laguna Beach are just some of the locations that are included in these new sanctuaries, which are intended to preserve our marine life heritage for future generations.

A 13-year process that started in 1999 finally came to fruition in 2012 when the MPA network all along the California Coast was completed, providing increased protection for large swaths of coastal and estuary waters up and down the state, many of them in Southern California.

Coastkeeper took a lead role in providing recommendations for the Orange County MPAs. We continue to monitor them through the MPA Watch program and through our other advocacy and enforcement efforts.

What is an MPA?

A Marine Protected Area is essentially a piece of the ocean or an estuary where human activities are more strictly regulated than they are in non-MPA areas. The equivalent on land might be a state park or wilderness area where hunting or collecting of firewood is limited or not allowed at all. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is the agency responsible for the MPAs. Detailed information and maps of all of them may be found here.

There are seven MPAs on and just offshore of the Orange County coastline.  The following are the Orange County MPAs and their basic regulations:

  • Bolsa Bay State Marine Conservation Area—Take is prohibited, except the recreational take of finfish by hook and line from shore is allowed in designated areas.
  • Bolsa Chica Basin No-Take State Marine Conservation Area—No take allowed.
  • Upper Newport Bay State Marine Conservation Area—Take is prohibited, except the recreational take of finfish by hook and line from shore is al-lowed in designated areas only.
  • Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area—Take is prohibited, except the recreational take of finfish by hook and line or by spearfishing is allowed, as well as take of lobster and sea urchin. The commercial take of coastal pelagic species (northern anchovy, jack mackerel, pacific sardine, pacific mackerel and market squid) by round haul net, spiny lobster by trap, and sea urchin are allowed. No take is allowed from tide pools.
  • Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve—No take is allowed.
  • Laguna Beach No-Take State Marine Conservation Area—No take is allowed.
  • Dana Point State Marine Conservation Area—Take is prohibited, except the recreational take of finfish by hook and line or by spearfishing, and take of lobster and sea urchin is allowed below the mean lower low tide line only. The commercial take of coastal pelagic species (northern anchovy, jack mackerel, pacific sardine, pacific mackerel and market squid) by round haul net, spiny lobster and sea urchin are allowed. No take is allowed from tide pools.

It is important to note that MPA regulations only restrict taking of marine life.   All other activities such as swimming, surfing, boating diving and wildlife watching are allowed in MPAs.

Continue Reading Beaches, Bays and MPAs: Part II

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