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 South Carlsbad State Beach, there is one MPA, Batiquitos Lagoon SMCA (No-Take).

  • Batiquitos Lagoon SMCA (No-Take)
    • This area includes the waters below the mean high tide line within Batiquitos Lagoon eastward of the Interstate Highway 5 Bridge, approximated by a line between the following two points:
      33° 05.44' N. lat. 117° 18.12' W. long.; and
      33° 05.46' N. lat. 117° 18.13' W. long.
    • There were only a few species of fish in Batiquitos Lagoon (just five!) before it was opened to the ocean and tides at the end of 1996. High temperatures in the summer, low oxygen levels, and wide ranges of salinity did not allow the ecosystem to flourish. Since the restoration of tidal action to the lagoon, the fish populations have significantly increased in numbers and diversity and more than sixty-five species have been found. Lagoons serve as breeding and nursery areas for a wide array of coastal fish, provide habitat and food for resident species and serve as feeding areas for seasonal species. – Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation
    • Permitted/Prohibited Uses: Take of all living marine resources is prohibited.
    • Other Regulations:
      • Boating, swimming, wading, and diving are prohibited within the conservation area.
    • Self-Guided Walk of the Batiquitos Lagoon – Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation

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: