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Bolsa Bay SMCA and Bolsa Chica Basin SMCA No-Take

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 Bolsa Chica State Beach, there are two MPAs, Bolsa Bay State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) and Bolsa Chica Basin State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) No-Take.

  • Bolsa Bay State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA)
    • This area includes the waters below the mean high tide line within Bolsa Bay estuary southward of a line that approximates the Warner Avenue bridge located between the following two points:
      33° 42.70' N. lat 118° 03.63' W. long.;
      33° 42.70' N. lat 118° 03.61' W. long.;
      and northward of a line that approximates the pedestrian bridge located between the following two points:
      33° 42.22' N. lat 118° 03.17' W. long.; and
      33° 42.19' N. lat 118° 03.18' W. long.
    • The Bolsa Chica includes over 1400 acres of undeveloped wetlands, lowlands and lower mesa. This area is rich with history beginning with the Native Americans who lived atop the mesas to the oil production in the twentieth century. The Bolsa Chica is also an important stop for migratory birds along the Pacific Flyway, including some endangered species and threatened species. More than 200 species of birds have been sighted at Bolsa Chica. – Amigos de Bolsa Chica
    • Permitted/Prohibited Uses: Take of all living marine resources is prohibited EXCEPT the recreational take of finfish by hook-and-line from shore in designated areas only.
    • Other Regulations:
      • Boating, swimming, wading, and diving are prohibited within the conservation area.
      • No person, except state and local law enforcement officers, fire suppression agencies and employees of the department in the performance of their official duties or persons possessing written permission from the department or employees of Signal Corporation and its invitees for the purpose of carrying out oil and gas operations, shall enter this conservation area and remain therein except on established trails, paths, or other designated areas.
      • No person shall enter this conservation area between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
  • Bolsa Chica Basin State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) No-Take
    • This area includes the waters below the mean high tide line within the Bolsa Chica Basin estuary northeastward of the Pacific Coast Highway Bridge, approximated by a straight line between the following two points:
      33° 41.02' N. lat. 118° 02.15' W. long.; and
      33° 40.98' N. lat. 118° 02.11' W. long.;
      and southeastward of a straight line between the following two points:
      33° 42.22' N. lat. 118° 03.17' W. long.; and
      33° 42.19' N. lat. 118° 03.18' W. long.
    • At 1,449 acres, the Bolsa Chica Wetlands is the largest saltwater marsh between Monterey Bay and the Tijuana River Estuary. Approximately 5 miles of trails can be explored from sunrise to sunset.
    • Bolsa Chica, along with the rest of Huntington Beach, CA, has some of the Nation's best birding! Nearly half of the birds found in the U.S. have been seen in Huntington Beach. – Bolsa Chica Conservancy
    • Permitted/Prohibited Uses: Take of all living marine resources is prohibited.
    • Other Regulations:
      • Boating, swimming, wading, and diving are prohibited within the conservation area.
      • No person, except state and local law enforcement officers, fire suppression agencies and employees of the department in the performance of their official duties or persons possessing written permission from the department or employees of Signal Corporation and its invitees for the purpose of carrying out oil and gas operations, shall enter this conservation area and remain therein except on established trails, paths, or other designated areas.
      • No person shall enter this conservation area between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

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/