About OC Marine Protected Areas

Approximately 12 of Orange County’s 44 mile coastline has been designated as a marine protected area (MPA). Each MPA can be classified as a State Marine Reserve, State Marine Conservation Area or Special Closure. These classifications have different regulations associated with their status. OCMPAC recommends that individuals research fishing regulations for the location they intend to fish in Orange County prior to arrival, as failure to comply with these regulations may result in a citation.

Map of Orange County Marine Protected Areas

Learn More about Specific MPAs in Orange County

Bolsa Bay State Marine Conservation Area

This area overlaps the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. Ecological reserve rules are in effect as defined in Section 630 or as posted. In addition, access to the ecological reserve shoreline is currently closed to the public, as authorized under Title 14, Section 630(a)(10).

Boundary: This area includes the waters below the mean high tide line within Bolsa Bay estuary southward of a line that approximates the Warner Avenue bridge located between the following two points:

33° 42.700′ N. lat. 118° 03.633′ W. long.;
33° 42.700′ N. lat. 118° 03.604′ W. long.; and northward of a line that approximates the pedestrian bridge located between the following two points:
33° 42.219′ N. lat. 118° 03.167′ W. long.; and
33° 42.177′ N. lat. 118° 03.186′ W. long.

Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

  1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for recreational and/or commercial purposes, with the following specified exceptions:
    1. The recreational take of finfish by hook-and-line from shore in designated areas only is allowed.
    2. Take pursuant to the routine operation and maintenance, habitat restoration, maintenance, dredging, research and education, and maintenance of artificial structures inside the conservation area is allowed pursuant to any required federal, state and local permits, or activities pursuant to Section 630, or as otherwise authorized by the Department.
  2. Boating, swimming, wading, and diving are prohibited within the conservation area.
  3. No person, except state and local law enforcement officers, fire suppression agencies and employees of the Department in the performance of their official duties or persons possessing written permission from the Department or employees of Signal Corporation and its invitees for the purpose of carrying out oil and gas operations, shall enter this conservation area and remain therein except on established trails, paths, or other designated areas.
  4. No person shall enter this conservation area between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

For up-to-date regulations concerning the Bolsa Bay State Marine Conservation Area please visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website.

Bolsa Chica Basin State Marine Conservation Area

This area overlaps the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. Ecological reserve rules are in effect as defined in Section 630 or as posted.

Boundary: This area includes the waters below the mean high tide line within the Bolsa Chica Basin estuary northeastward of the Pacific Coast Highway Bridge, approximated by a straight line between the following two points:

33° 41.028′ N. lat. 118° 02.153′ W. long.; and
33° 40.981′ N. lat. 118° 02.109′ W. long.; and southeastward of a straight line between the following two points:
33° 42.219′ N. lat. 118° 03.167′ W. long.; and
33° 42.177′ N. lat. 118° 03.186′ W. long.

Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

  1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for recreational and/or commercial purposes, with the following specified exceptions:
    1. Take pursuant to routine operation and maintenance, habitat restoration, maintenance dredging, research and education, and maintenance of artificial structures inside the conservation area is allowed pursuant to any required federal, state and local permits, or activities pursuant to Section 630, or as otherwise authorized by the department.
  2. Boating, swimming, wading, and diving are prohibited within the conservation area.
  3. No person, except state and local law enforcement officers, fire suppression agencies and employees of the Department in the performance of their official duties or persons possessing written permission from the Department or employees of Signal Corporation and its invitees for the purpose of carrying out oil and gas operations, shall enter this conservation area and remain therein except on established trails, paths, or other designated areas.
  4. No person shall enter this conservation area between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

For up-to-date regulations concerning the Bolsa Chica Basin State Marine Conservation Area please visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website.

Upper Newport Bay State Marine Conservation Area

This area overlaps the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve. Ecological reserve rules are in effect as defined in Section 630 or as posted.

Boundary: This area includes the waters below the mean high tide line within Upper Newport Bay northeastward of Pacific Coast Highway approximated by a line between the following two points:

33° 37.014′ N. lat. 117° 54.237′ W. long.;
33° 37.014′ N. lat. 117° 54.336′ W. long.; and southwestward of Jamboree Road approximated by a line between the following two points:
33° 39.071′ N. lat. 117° 52.021′ W. long.; and
33° 39.027′ N. lat. 117° 52.014′ W. long.

Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

  1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for recreational and/or commercial purposes, with the following specified exceptions:
    1. The recreational take of finfish by hook-and-line from shore only is allowed.
    2. Take pursuant to maintenance dredging, habitat restoration, research and education programs, maintenance of artificial structures, and operation and maintenance of existing facilities inside the conservation area is allowed pursuant to any required federal, state and local permits, or activities pursuant to Section 630, or as otherwise authorized by the Department.
  2. In waters below the mean high tide line inside the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve, northeastward of a line connecting Shellmaker Island (33° 37.200′ N. lat. 117° 53.510′ W. long.) and North Star Beach (33° 37.380′ N. lat. 117° 53.600′ W. long.) the following restrictions apply:
    1. Swimming is allowed only in the area between North Star Beach and mid-channel.
    2. Boats are limited to speeds less than five miles per hour.
    3. Shoreline access is limited to established trails, paths, or other designated areas.

For up-to-date regulations concerning the Upper Newport Bay State Marine Conservation Area please visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website.

Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area

Boundary: This area is bounded by the mean high tide line and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

33° 35.372′ N. lat. 117° 52.645′ W. long.;
33° 35.065′ N. lat. 117° 52.692′ W. long.;
33° 32.400′ N. lat. 117° 49.200′ W. long.;
33° 33.211′ N. lat. 117° 49.200′ W. long.; and
33° 33.224′ N. lat. 117° 49.184′ W. long.

Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

  1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for recreational and/or commercial purposes, with the following specified exceptions:
    1. The recreational take of finfish by hook-and-line or by spearfishing, and spiny lobster and sea urchin is allowed.
    2. The commercial take of sea urchin; spiny lobster by trap; and coastal pelagic species by round haul net, brail gear, and light boat is allowed. Not more than five percent by weight of any commercial coastal pelagic species catch landed or possessed shall be other incidentally taken species.
    3. Take pursuant to beach nourishment and other sediment management activities, and operation and maintenance of artificial structures inside the conservation area is allowed pursuant to any required federal, state and local permits, or as otherwise authorized by the Department.
  2. Take of all living marine resources from inside tidepools is prohibited. For purposes of this section, tidepools are defined as the area encompassing the rocky pools that are filled with seawater due to retracting tides between the mean higher high tide line and the mean lower low tide line.

For up-to-date regulations concerning the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area please visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website.

Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve

Boundary: This area is bounded by the mean high tide line and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

33° 33.224′ N. lat. 117° 49.184′ W. long.;
33° 30.211′ N. lat. 117° 49.200′ W. long.;
33° 30.713′ N. lat. 117° 49.200′ W. long.; and
33° 30.713′ N. lat. 117° 45.264′ W. long.

Permitted/Prohibited Uses: It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource.

For up-to-date regulations concerning the Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve please visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website.

Laguna Beach State Marine Conservation Area

Boundary: This area is bounded by the mean high tide line and straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

33° 30.713′ N. lat. 117° 45.264′ W. long.;
33° 30.713′ N. lat. 117° 49.200′ W. long.;
33° 30.050′ N. lat. 117° 49.200′ W. long.; and
33° 30.050′ N. lat. 117° 44.762′ W. long.

Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

  1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for commercial and/or recreational purposes, with the following specified exceptions:
    1. Operation and maintenance of artificial structures and facilities, beach grooming, maintenance dredging, and habitat restoration inside the conservation area is allowed pursuant to any required federal, state and local permits, or as otherwise authorized by the Department.

For up-to-date regulations concerning the Laguna Beach State Marine Conservation Area please visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website.

Dana Point State Marine Conservation Area

Boundary: 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° 44.762′ 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.

Permitted/Prohibited Uses:

  1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for recreational and/or commercial purposes, with the following specified exceptions:
    1. The recreational take of finfish by hook-and-line or by spearfishing, and spiny lobster and sea urchin is allowed.
    2. The commercial take of sea urchin, spiny lobster by trap, and coastal pelagic species by round haul net, brail gear, and light boat is allowed. Not more than five percent by weight of any commercial coastal pelagic species catch landed or possessed shall be other incidentally taken species.
    3. Take pursuant to operation and maintenance of artificial structures inside the conservation area is allowed, pursuant to any required federal, state and local permits, or as otherwise authorized by the Department.
  2. Take of all living marine resources from inside tidepools is prohibited. For purposes of this section, tidepools are defined as the area encompassing the rocky pools that are filled with seawater due to retracting tides between the mean higher high tide line and the mean lower low tide line.

For up-to-date regulations concerning the Dana Point State Marine Conservation Area please visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website.

*Other regulations may apply. For detailed maps, coordinates, and regulations, please visit CA Department of Fish and Wildlife Website

Which Orange County MPAs Permit Recreational Fishing?

Offshore Fishing

Offshore fishing is allowed in the Crystal Cove and Dana Point State Marine Conservation Areas. No fishing is allowed in the Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve and Laguna Beach No-Take State Marine Conservation Area. Please be aware of the triangular shape of the Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve.

Surf Fishing

Surf fishing is allowed in the Crystal Cove and Dana Point State Marine Conservation Areas. No fishing is allowed in the Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve and Laguna Beach No-Take State Marine Conservation Area. Nothing from the tide pools can be taken or disturbed, including using mussels for bait.

*Other regulations may apply. For detailed maps, coordinates, and regulations, please visit CA Department of Fish and Wildlife Website