San Elijo Lagoon SMCA (No-Take) and Swami’s SMCA
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).
In the waters adjacent to San Elijo State Beach, there are two MPAs, San Elijo Lagoon State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) No-Take and Swami’s State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA).
- San Elijo Lagoon State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) No-Take
- This area includes the waters below the mean high tide line within San Elijo Lagoon southeastward of a straight line between the following two points:
33° 00.980' N. lat. 117° 16.857' W. long.; and
33° 00.962' N. lat. 117° 16.850' W. long.
- San Elijo Lagoon is one of San Diego County’s largest coastal wetlands and hosts more than 700 species of plants and animals.
- Permitted/Prohibited Uses: Take of all living marine resources is prohibited.
- Other Regulations:
- Boating, swimming, wading, and diving are prohibited within the conservation area.
- San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve Brochure – San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy
- Swami’s 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 except where noted:
33° 02.900' N. lat. 117° 17.927' W. long.;
33° 02.900' N. lat. 117° 21.743' W. long.;
thence southward along the three nautical mile offshore boundary to
33° 00.000' N. lat. 117° 20.398' W. long.; and
33° 00.000' N. lat. 117° 16.698' W. long.,
thence northward along the mean high tide line onshore boundary to
33° 00.962' N. lat. 117° 16.850' W. long.; and
33° 00.980' N. lat. 117° 16.857' W. long.
- The rich waters around Swami’s Reef contain 12 distinct habitats—including a thriving kelp forest, extensive surf grass beds, and rocky reefs—where lobsters, halibut, grunion, and many other fish and invertebrates feed and breed. At low tide, the nearshore reef is exposed, and visitors can see brittle stars, sea hares, and octopi in the tidepools, as well as fossils imprinted in the flat rocks.
- Swami’s Reef is also a major surfing destination, attracting all levels of surfers during good swells.
- Permitted/Prohibited Uses: Take of all living marine resources is prohibited EXCEPT the recreational take of Finfish by hook-and-line from shore only and pelagic finfish including Pacific bonito and white seabass by spearfishing.
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.
For additional information on MPAs please visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/MPAsFor resources related to MPAs, please visit the Marine Protected Areas Education and Outreach Initiative’s website: http://www.californiampas.org/