Crystal Cove SMCA, Upper Newport Bay SMCA, Laguna Beach SMR, Laguna Beach 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 Crystal Cove State Park, there is one MPA, Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA).

  • Crystal Cove 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:
      33° 35.373' N. lat. 117° 52.648' W. long.;
      33° 35.065' N. lat. 117° 52.692' W. long.;
      33° 32.400' N. lat. 117° 49.200' W. long.; and
      33° 33.233' N. lat. 117° 49.200' W. long.
    • Just offshore from Crystal Cove State Park, the state marine conservation area has delightful tidepools and sandy coves where visitors can see California sea hare, Spanish shawl nudibranch, limpets and bat stars. Fishermen can celebrate lobster season or take a stab at spearfishing dinner at this Orange County underwater park.
    • Permitted/Prohibited Uses: Take of all living marine resources is prohibited EXCEPT the recreational take of lobster, sea urchin, and finfish by hook-and-line or spearfishing and the commercial take of coastal pelagic species by round haul net, spiny lobster by trap, and sea urchin. Take of all living marine resources from tidepools is prohibited.
    • Orange County Marine Protected Areas – Orange County Marine Protected Area Council

In waters near Crystal Cove State Park, there are an additional 3 MPAs, Upper Newport Bay State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA), Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve (SMR) and Laguna Beach State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) No-Take

  • Upper Newport Bay State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA)
    • This area includes the waters below the mean high tide line within Upper Newport Bay northeastward of Pacific Coast Highway approximated by a line between the following two points:
      33° 37.02' N. lat. 117° 54.24' W. long.;
      33° 37.02' N. lat. 117° 54.32' W. long.;
      and southwestward of Jamboree Road approximated by a line between the following two points:
      33° 39.07' N. lat. 117° 52.02' W. long.; and
      33° 39.03' N. lat. 117° 52.01' W. long.
    • Upper Newport Bay is the largest of only a few remaining natural estuaries in Southern California. Upper Newport Bay is an important rest stop and/or winter home for birds migrating from Canada and Alaska, and up to 30,000 birds can be seen here on any one day during the winter months. During the spring and summer many birds that have migrated from the south nest here, together with other birds that are year-round residents. Nesting birds include the endangered light-footed clapper rail and California least tern. The Bay is also a spawning ground and nursery for many commercial and sports fish, including halibut and bass. – Newport Bay Conservancy
    • Permitted/Prohibited Uses: Take of all living marine resources is prohibited EXCEPT the recreational take of finfish by hook-and-line from shore only.
    • Other Regulations:
      • In waters below the mean high tide line inside the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve, northeastward of a line connecting Shellmaker Island (33° 37.20' N. lat. 117° 53.51' W. long.) and North Star Beach (33° 37.38' N. lat. 117° 53.60' W. long.) the following restrictions apply:
      • Swimming is allowed only in the area between North Star Beach and mid-channel.
      • Boats are limited to speeds less than five miles per hour.
      • Shoreline access is limited to established trails, paths, or other designated areas.
    • Orange County Marine Protected Areas – Orange County Marine Protected Area Council

  • Laguna Beach 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:
      33° 33.233' N. lat. 117° 49.200' W. long.;
      33° 30.800' N. lat. 117° 49.200' W. long.; and
      33° 30.800' N. lat. 117° 45.631' W. long.
    • Laguna Beach’s longstanding marine protected areas were enlarged into the Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve. Several fantastic diving hot spots are located along the Laguna coastline. Shaw's is the most popular of all the coves and provides underwater access to an array of fascinating dives. Beware the occasional surge, but do explore the incredible outer reef where you’ll find gorgonian sea fans, nudibranchs and a host of reef fish. - Top 10 Dive Sites in California’s Underwater Parks
    • Southern Orange County is dotted with numerous noteworthy beaches, but for tidepooling, none is more spectacular than Shaw’s Cove, located within the Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve. After grabbing tasty fish tacos at Wahoo’s, 1133 So. Pacific Coast Hwy, follow the 58-step staircase to this secluded cove from Fairview Street north of downtown Laguna. You’ll find some of Laguna’s most fascinating tidepooling. Large pools filled with anemones, urchins, sea stars and more awaits visitors and a docent program provides education and tips regarding these fragile and diverse ocean critters. – Top 10 Places to Tidepool in California’s Marine Protected Areas
    • Permitted/Prohibited Uses: Take of all living marine resources is prohibited.
    • Orange County Marine Protected Areas – Orange County Marine Protected Area Council

  • Laguna Beach State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) No-Take
    • This area is bounded by the mean high tide line and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:
      33° 30.800' N. lat. 117° 45.631' W. long.;
      33° 30.800' N. lat. 117° 49.200' W. long.;
      33° 30.050' N. lat. 117° 49.200' W. long.; and
      33° 30.050' N. lat. 117° 44.771' W. long.
    • Permitted/Prohibited Uses: Take of all living marine resources is prohibited.
    • Orange County Marine Protected Areas – Orange County Marine Protected Area Council

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/