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Parks Title

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

Duxbury Reef SMCA, North Farallon Islands SMR, Southeast Farallon Island SMR, Southeast Farallon Island SMCA, North Farallon Islands Special Closure, Southeast Farallon Island Special Closure

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 off the coast of Mount Tamalpais State Park there are four MPAs and two special closures: Duxbury Reef State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA), North Farallon Islands State Marine Reserve (SMR), Southeast Farallon Island State Marine Reserve (SMR), Southeast Farallon Island State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA), North Farallon Islands Special Closure, and Southeast Farallon Island Special Closure

  • Duxbury Reef State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA)
    • This area is bounded by the mean high tide line, a distance of 1000 feet seaward of mean lower low water, and the following points:
      37° 55.52' N. lat. 122° 44.17' W. long.;
      37° 55.42' N. lat. 122° 44.31' W. long.;
      37° 53.65' N. lat. 122° 41.91' W. long.; and
      37° 53.77' N. lat. 122° 42.02' W. long.
    • Duxbury Reef offers amazing opportunities to explore tide pools filled with marine life, general beach recreation, wildflower viewing, bird watching, and on clear days, incredible views to the Farallones and beyond.
    • Permitted/Prohibited Uses: Take of all living marine resources is prohibited EXCEPT the recreational take of finfish from shore only and abalone.

  • North Farallon Islands State Marine Reserve (SMR)
    • This area is bounded by straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed except where noted:
      37° 45.70' N. lat. 122° 59.08' W. long.;
      thence northwestward along the three nautical mile offshore boundary to
      37° 49.34' N. lat. 123° 7.00' W. long.;
      37° 45.70' N. lat. 123° 7.00' W. long.; and
      37° 45.70' N. lat. 122° 59.08' W. long.
    • The Farallon Islands are home to the largest sea bird nesting colony in the contiguous U.S. with over 300,000 breeding seabirds of 13 different species using the islands each year!
    • Permitted/Prohibited Uses: Take of all living marine resources is prohibited.

    • Southeast Farallon Island  State Marine Reserve (SMR)
      • This area is bounded by straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:
        37° 42.60' N. lat. 122° 59.50' W. long.;
        37° 42.60' N. lat. 123° 02.00' W. long.;
        37° 40.50' N. lat. 123° 02.00' W. long.;
        37° 40.50' N. lat. 122° 59.50' W. long.; and
        37° 42.60' N. lat. 122° 59.50' W. long.
      • In 1996, a Northern Fur Seal pup was born on the islands, ending an absence that had lasted over 150 years.
      • The Farallon Islands are also home to one of the most significant white shark populations on the planet, which are attracted to the islands for the abundant seal population.
      • Permitted/Prohibited Uses: Take of all living marine resources is prohibited.

      • Southeast Farallon Island State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA)
        • This area is bounded by straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed except where noted:
          37° 42.60' N. lat. 123° 02.00' W. long.;
          37° 42.60' N. lat. 123° 05.46' W. long.;
          thence southeastward along the three nautical mile offshore boundary to
          37° 38.66' N. lat. 122° 59.50' W. long;
          37° 40.50' N. lat. 122° 59.50' W. long;
          37° 40.50' N. lat. 123° 02.00' W. long.; and
          37° 42.60' N. lat. 123° 02.00' W. long.
        • In addition to all the seabirds, the Farallon Islands provide breeding and feeding grounds for at least twenty-five endangered or threatened species; thirty-six marine mammal species, including blue, gray, and humpback whales, harbor seals, elephant seals, Pacific white-sided dolphins, and one of the last populations of threatened Steller sea lions.
        • Permitted/Prohibited Uses: Take of all living marine resources is prohibited EXCEPT recreational take of Salmon by trolling and commercial take of Salmon with troll fishing gear.

      • North Farallon Island Special Closure
        • Except as permitted by federal law or emergency caused by hazardous weather, no vessel shall be operated or anchored at any time from the mean high tide line to a distance of 1000 feet seaward of the mean lower low tide line of any shoreline of North Farallon Island, or to a distance of 300 feet seaward of the mean lower low tide line of any shoreline of the remaining three southern islets, including the Island of St. James, in the vicinity of 37° 46' N. lat. 123° 06' W. long.
        • The North Farallon Islands are one of only a few breeding areas in California for the Threatened Steller sea lion. The islands are also home to roughly 93,000 nesting seabirds. This Special Closure protects resting and nesting seabirds and provides a protected resting area for marine mammals.
        • Permitted/Prohibited Uses: Take of all living marine resources is prohibited.
        • Other Regulations:
          • No person shall enter the area, except for agencies identified in Title 14 Section 632 CCR, when performing their official duties.
          • All vessels shall observe a five (5) nautical mile per hour speed limit within 1,000 feet seaward of the mean lower low tide line of any shoreline of the islets.
          • In an area bounded by the mean high tide line and a distance of one nautical mile seaward of the mean lower low tide line of any of the four islets comprising the North Farallon Islands, the following restrictions apply:
          • All commercial diving vessels operating in the defined area shall have their vessel engine exhaust system terminate either through a muffler for dry exhaust systems, or below the vessel waterline for wet exhaust systems.
          • All commercial diving vessels equipped with an open, deck-mounted air compressor system, while operating in the defined area, shall have their air compressor's engine exhaust system terminate below the vessel waterline.
        • A Boater and Kayaker Guide to Special Closures in California’s Marine Protected Areas – includes detailed information on each of the Special Closures along the north central coast.

      • Southeast Farallon Island Special Closure
        • BOUNDARIES:
          Except as permitted by federal law or emergency caused by hazardous weather, no vessel shall be operated or anchored at any time from the mean high tide line to a distance of 300 feet seaward of the mean lower low tide line of any shoreline of the Southeast Farallon Island year-round
          EXCEPT:
          The area north of Fisherman's Bay, from a line extending due west from 37° 42.26' N. lat. 123° 00.16' W. long., following clockwise around the island (including Fisherman's Bay), to a line extending due east from 37° 42.05' N. lat. 123° 00.07' W. long.
          At East Landing, from a line extending due east from 37° 41.83' N. lat. 122° 59.98' W. long., following clockwise around the island, to a straight line connecting the following two points:
          37° 41.72' N. lat. 123° 00.05' W. long.; and
          37° 41.68' N. lat. 123° 00.07' W. long.
          This closure exists year round, except for the following areas, which are closed only from December 1 through September 14 of each year:
          • From Fisherman's Bay to East Landing, from a line extending due east from 37° 42.05' N. lat. 123° 00.07' W. long., following clockwise around the island to a line extending due east from 37° 41.83' N. lat. 122° 59.98' W. long.
          • The area southwest of East Landing, from a straight line connecting the following two points:
            37° 41.72' N. lat. 123° 00.05' W. long.; and
            37° 41.68' N. lat. 123° 00.07' W. long.
          • Following clockwise around the main island to a straight line extending due south from 37° 41.76' N. lat. 123° 00.16' W. long. to 37° 41.64' N. lat. 123° 00.16' W. long., and on the southeast side of Saddle (Seal) Rock, from a straight line extending due south from 37° 41.76' N. lat. 123° 00.16' W. long., following clockwise around Saddle (Seal) Rock, to a line extending due west from 37° 41.60' N. lat. 123° 00.26' W. long.
        • More than 250,000 seabirds of 13 species breed on the South Farallon Islands. The islands also provide habitat for six species of marine mammals, and the surrounding waters are a feeding destination for white sharks. This Special Closure protects resting and nesting seabirds and provides a protected resting area for marine mammals.
        • Permitted/Prohibited Uses: Take of all living marine resources is prohibited.
        • Other Regulations:
          • No person shall enter the area, except for agencies identified in Title 14 Section 632 CCR, when performing their official duties.
          • All vessels shall observe a five (5) nautical mile per hour speed limit 1,000 feet seaward of the mean lower low tide line of any shoreline of the Southeast Farallon Island.
          • In an area bounded by the mean high tide line and a distance of one nautical mile seaward of the mean lower low tide line of any of the islands and islets comprising the Southeast Farallon Island, the following restrictions apply:
          • All commercial diving vessels operating in the defined area shall have their vessel engine exhaust system terminate either through a muffler for dry exhaust systems, or below the vessel waterline for wet exhaust systems.
          • All commercial diving vessels equipped with an open, deck-mounted air compressor system, while operating in the defined area, shall have their air compressor's engine exhaust system terminate below the vessel waterline.
        •  Boater and Kayaker Guide to Special Closures in California’s Marine Protected Areas – includes detailed information on each of the Special Closures along the north central coast.

      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