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 (

In the waters adjacent to Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park, there is one MPA, Point Cabrillo State Marine Reserve (SMR).

  • Point Cabrillo 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:
      39° 21.400' N. lat. 123° 49.418' W. long.;
      39° 21.400' N. lat. 123° 50.000' W. long.;
      39° 20.600' N. lat. 123° 50.000' W. long.; and
      39° 20.600' N. lat. 123° 49.266' W. long.
    • Point Cabrillo State Marine Reserve is located along the scenic and rugged coast at the small community of Caspar. Caspar has a cove with a nice, calm beach and near the beach is a charming old lighthouse. There is a network of trails to and around the lighthouse, and a walk out to the bluffs that will give you a sweeping view of this reserve.
    • For thousands of years, the rich waters and headlands around Point Cabrillo were the summer hunting and gathering grounds of the Pomo people. The Pomo moved here from their inland encampments in early summer to harvest abalone, mussels, seals and sea lions, deer, kelp and salt. These foods were carried to their permanent villages and stored for the winter.
    • Permitted/Prohibited Uses: Take of all living marine resources is prohibited.

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:

For resources related to MPAs, please visit the Marine Protected Areas Education and Outreach Initiative’s website: