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 Silver Strand State Beach, there is one MPA, Cabrillo State Marine Reserve (SMR).

  • 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:
      32° 40.60' N. lat. 117° 14.82' W. long.;
      32° 40.60' N. lat. 117° 15.00' W. long.;
      32° 39.70' N. lat. 117° 15.00' W. long.;
      32° 39.70' N. lat. 117° 14.30' W. long.; and
      32° 40.00' N. lat. 117° 14.30' W. long.
    • At Cabrillo, a rocky interface between the land and the ocean provides a spectacular coastline and fascinating habitats to explore. A myriad of marine plants and animals, including lacy red and slimy green algae, sluggish sea hares, leggy octopi, darting fish, and the always entertaining hermit crabs, live in this rocky intertidal area. Also on the west side of the park and just past the intertidal area, but not yet reaching the horizon, visitors can see the imprints of the kelp forest on the ocean surface. This subtidal zone is an underwater forest with large kelp that provides food and shelter for some of the animals that live there: snails, urchins, abalone, sea stars, kelp bass, sheephead, and octopi. From December to March, visitors can look beyond the kelp forest toward the horizon and see the Pacific Gray Whale pass by the shores on its annual migration from Alaska to Baja California, Mexico, where it will birth and rear its young. – Cabrillo National Monument
    • 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: