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 Doheny State Beach, there is one MPA, Dana Point State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA).

  • Dana Point 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° 30.050' N. lat. 117° 44.771' W. long.;
      33° 30.050' N. lat. 117° 46.000' W. long.;
      33° 30.000' N. lat. 117° 46.000' W. long.;
      33° 27.300' N. lat. 117° 43.300' W. long.;
      33° 27.478' N. lat. 117° 42.276' W. long.; and
      33° 27.622' N. lat. 117° 42.425' W. long.
    • Doheny State Beach provides habitat and nesting ground to such birds as black-crowned night herons, ruby-crowned kinglets and snowy egrets, while black-bellied plovers and sanderlings dart across the sand. Doheny also enjoys migratory visits from whales offshore and monarch butterflies in season. Marine life includes grunion, halibut and stingrays, while garibaldi and common dolphin also swim beneath the waves.
    • 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 below the mean lower low tide only and commercial take of coastal pelagic species by round haul net, spiny lobster, and sea urchin.
    • A Guide to Doheny’s Tidepools – Doheny State Beach Interpretive Association

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: