Bodega Head SMR & SMCA, Russian River SMCA & SMRMA

Like state and national parks protect wildlife and habitats on land, marine protected areas (MPAs) conserve and restore wildlife and habitats in our ocean. Under the California Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) passed in 1999, California began a historic effort to establish a science-based, statewide network of MPAs through a collaborative effort that includes the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and California State Parks. California is taking a regional approach to the design and implementation of MPAs, and has divided the state into five regions: the north coast, south coast, north central coast, central coast and San Francisco Bay.

MPAs contribute to healthier, more resilient ocean ecosystems that can better withstand a wide range of impacts such as pollution and climate change. By protecting entire ecosystems rather than focusing on a single species, MPAs are powerful tools for conserving and restoring ocean biodiversity, and protecting cultural resources, while allowing certain activities such as marine recreation and research. There is a global body of scientific evidence about the effectiveness of marine protected areas and reserves to restore marine ecosystems (http://www.piscoweb.org/outreach/pubs/reserves).

In the waters adjacent to the Sonoma Coast State Park there are four MPAs, Bodega Head State Marine Reserve (SMR), Bodega Head State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA), Russian River State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) and Russian River State Marine Recreational Management Area (SMRMA)

  • Bodega Head State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA)
    • This area is bounded by the mean high tide line and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed except where noted:
      38° 18.00' N. lat. 123° 03.64' W. long.;
      38° 18.00' N. lat. 123° 08.08' W. long.;
      thence southward along the three nautical mile offshore boundary to
      38° 13.34' N. lat. 123° 03.51' W. long.; and
      38° 17.93' N. lat. 123° 03.51' W. long.
    • Whale watching from the Bodega Bay headlands is a popular activity during the annual gray whale migrations.
    • Coastal Miwok and Pomo Indians lived in Bodega Bay and the surrounding areas until 1775. The ocean provided food for these civilizations year-round and they adopted many different fishing techniques, some of which are still used today!
    • Permitted/Prohibited Uses: Take of all living marine resources is prohibited except:
      1. Recreational take of pelagic finfish by trolling, Dungeness crab by trap and market squid by hand-held dip net are allowed.
      2. Commercial take of pelagic finfish with troll fishing gear or seine, Dungeness crab by trap and market squid by round haul net are allowed.
    • Bodega Bay Brochure - includes additional information on the natural history, key species, and regulations of this MPA, as well as a detailed map with GPS coordinates of the area.

  • Bodega Head State Marine Reserve (SMR)
    • This area is bounded by the mean high tide line and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed except where noted:
      38° 20.10' N. lat. 123° 04.04' W. long.;
      38° 20.10' N. lat. 123° 08.38' W. long.;
      thence southward along the three nautical mile offshore boundary to
      38° 18.00' N. lat. 123° 08.08' W. long.; and
      38° 18.00' N. lat. 123° 03.64' W. long.
    • Researchers from the Bodega Bay Marine Lab have studied the marine life here since the 1920’s. Projects aim to solve complex environmental problems such as climate change, invasive species, impacted salmon populations and marine pollution.
    • Permitted/Prohibited Uses: No fishing. All take of living marine resources is prohibited.
    • Bodega Bay Brochure - includes additional information on the natural history, key species, and regulations of this MPA, as well as a detailed map with GPS coordinates of the area.

  • Russian River State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA)
    • This area is bounded by the mean high tide line, the mouth of the Russian River estuary as defined in subsection 632(b)(14)(A), and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:
      38° 27.38' N. lat. 123° 08.58' W. long.;
      38° 26.38' N. lat. 123° 08.58' W. long.; and
      38° 26.38' N. lat. 123° 07.70' W. long.
    • The Russian River Estuary is an important nursery for salmon and supports diverse habitats such as eel grass beds and mudflats. When a sandbar closes the river seasonally, this habitat also serves as an important harbor seal haul-out and hosts various seabird populations.
    • Permitted/Prohibited Uses: Take of all living marine resources is prohibited except:
      1. Recreational take of Dungeness crab by trap and surf smelt using hand- held dip net or beach net is allowed.
      2. Commercial take of Dungeness crab by trap is allowed.
    • Russian River Brochure - includes additional information on the natural history, key species, and regulations of this MPA, as well as a detailed map with GPS coordinates of the area.

  • Russian River State Marine Recreational Management Area (SMRMA)
    • This area includes the waters below the mean high tide line eastward of the mouth of the Russian River Estuary defined as a line connecting the following two points:
      38° 27.16' N. lat. 123° 07.91' W. long.; and
      38° 27.01' N. lat. 123° 07.74' W. long.
      and westward of the Highway 1 Bridge.
    • MPAs here protect important steelhead as well as Chinook and Coho salmon populations, which aggregate at the mouth of the Russian River.
    • Permitted/Prohibited Uses: A. Take of all living marine resources is prohibited.
      B. Waterfowl may be taken in accordance with DFG regulations.
    • Russian River Brochure - includes additional information on the natural history, key species, and regulations of this MPA, as well as a detailed map with GPS coordinates of the area.

This information does not replace the official regulatory language found in California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 632, including commercial allowances and restrictions.

  • A fishing license is required for any fishing.
  • All existing take regulations still apply in addition to the ones listed above.
  • Unless otherwise stated, all non-consumptive recreational activities are allowed.

Additional Resources:

For additional information on MPAs please visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/

For resources related to MPAs, please visit the Marine Protected Areas Education and Outreach Initiative’s website: http://www.CaliforniaMPAs.org