San Luis Obispo County MPA Collaborative

SLO Collaborative LogoDiverse marine habitats are a hallmark of California’s central coast region, from sandy beaches and dune landscapes, to expansive estuaries and dense kelp forests. Many are safeguarded by state marine protected areas (MPAs), which aim to protect the abundance of marine life, the habitats on which they depend, and the integrity of marine ecosystems. California is home to a statewide network of 124 ecologically-connected MPAs, managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). CDFW works with many partners, including a grassroots organization called the MPA Collaborative Network to effectively manage this expansive Network. The Collaborative Network engages diverse stakeholders and empowers coastal communities to advance ocean stewardship on a local level. Continue reading “San Luis Obispo County MPA Collaborative”

Exploring California’s Marine Protected Areas: Cambria State Marine Conservation Area

Along Highway 1 nestled between the cities of San Simeon and Cambria in San Luis Obispo County is a 5.8 mile stretch of beautiful coastline and the Cambria State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA).

Map of Cambria State Marine Conservation Area/State Marine Park
Cambria State Marine Conservation Area/State Marine Park* (click to enlarge)
CDFW map by Marine Region GIS Lab

Regulations for Cambria SMCA, and its neighbor to the south, White Rock SMCA, were adopted by the Fish and Game Commission in 2006 and went into effect in 2007 as part of the first regional implementation phase of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). Passed in 1999, the MLPA mandated California create a science-based ecologically connected network of marine protected areas (MPAs). While recreational take is allowed, commercial take is prohibited in this MPA. Cambria SMCA is also nestled within the larger federally managed Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary which was implemented in 1992. Continue reading “Exploring California’s Marine Protected Areas: Cambria State Marine Conservation Area”

Exploring California’s Marine Protected Areas: Swami’s State Marine Conservation Area

Map of Swami's SMCA
Map of Swami’s SMCA (click to enlarge)

Located offshore of Encinitas, about 50 miles north of the United States-Mexico border, Swami’s State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) is a popular destination for visitors year-round, owing to its consistently pleasant weather and expansive beaches. Established in 2012 along with 49 other marine protected areas (MPAs) south of Point Conception, Swami’s SMCA protects nearly 13 square miles of marine habitats, including sandy beaches, surfgrass beds, rocky coasts, underwater reefs, and kelp forests. Protecting multiple habitats within MPAs, especially large MPAs like Swami’s SMCA, was one of the scientific guidelines stakeholders used when tasked with designing California’s MPAs. With these habitats protected in one location, there are plenty of opportunities to explore and enjoy the underwater world along this stretch of coast. Continue reading “Exploring California’s Marine Protected Areas: Swami’s State Marine Conservation Area”

ocean habitats

A Model of Collaboration: The Orange County Marine Protected Area Council

MPA sign
MPA sign created by OCMPAC
photo by A. Van Diggelen

With so much to experience within the five counties that hug the Southern California coastline—Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego—it’s no surprise that almost half the state’s population, around 18 million people, can be found living along this famously sun-filled stretch of coast. Despite the large volume of people, California implemented 50 marine protected areas (MPAs) off these coastal counties in 2012.

Continue reading “A Model of Collaboration: The Orange County Marine Protected Area Council”

Exploring California’s Marine Protected Areas: Montara State Marine Reserve

Hopkin's rose nudibranch
Montara State Marine Reserve is an excellent place to find many different species of tiny sea slugs, such as this Hopkins rose nudibranch.
photo by R. Cala

Summer temperatures in California’s land-locked central valley can soar above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, forcing residents to take refuge in their air-conditioned homes. Another popular way to beat the heat is to visit the coast near San Francisco, where billows of silvery fog and a cool, salt-soaked breeze beckon visitors during the summer months. Continue reading “Exploring California’s Marine Protected Areas: Montara State Marine Reserve”