Throughout 2010, stakeholders on the North Coast – fishermen, conservationists, educators, divers and tribal representatives –worked together to develop one unified plan for marine protected areas. This “unified proposal” gained support from elected officials, conservation organizations, fishing groups and the general public. This final coastal piece of California’s MPA network will go into effect on December 19, 2012, completing the statewide network of underwater parks.
The northernmost stretch of California shelters some of the state's most spectacular and remote coastline. From the Oregon border to Alder Creek just north of Point Arena, visitors encounter ancient redwood forests, sprawling river mouths, thriving estuaries and the serenity of Humboldt Bay. Waves crashing against rocky cliffs and plentiful sea stacks provide drama above the sea, while an array of marine life swims, scuttles and grows below.
Some of the special North Coast places in the network of Marine Protected Areas include:
Point St. George Reef
Half a mile offshore from Crescent City stands Castle Rock Refuge, an important sanctuary for Aleutian Canada geese and nesting seabirds - next to the Farallon Islands, the largest nesting seabird colony south of Alaska and a resting place for harbor seals, northern elephant seals, California sea lions and Stellar's sea lions. An offshore MPA was approved to protect this unique and critical location.
Ancient home of the Wiyot tribe, now best known both for its treacherous entrance and for being the oyster capital of California, Humboldt Bay provides 70 percent of oysters sold within the state. As the Wiyot work to restore their industry-damaged lands, an unfortunate legacy of the timber heyday, further protection is planned for the south end of the bay, near the Humboldt Wildlife Refuge.
The westernmost point in California, Cape Mendocino shields the coast from the development common in the rest of the state and serves as a gateway to “The Lost Coast,” the largest roadless stretch of coastline in the continental U.S. On land, the human population is sparse, but in the sea, a remarkable diversity of ocean life abounds. Striped seaperch, stellar sea lions, abalone, rock greenling, cabezon and lingcod are just some of the species common to the area. Four MPAs were approved along this area: South Cape Mendocino, Mattole Canyon, Sea Lion Gulch and Big Flat.
With these and other MPAs in place, the thriving species along the North Coast will continue to flourish - and the diminished marine environments will return to historic levels, ensuring a healthier future for all.
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- Press Release - North Coast MPAs Adopted (pdf)
- Map of North Coast MPAs
- Follow The Pacific Ocean on Twitter
- Like CalOceans on Facebook
- Surfrider Humboldt
- KHUM's Aerial Tour of the North Coast
- Hawk Rosales' Op-Ed: A Sea of Change for Tribal-State Relations
- Press Release: North Coast Stakeholders Announce Unified Plan (pdf)
- North Coast Fact Sheet (pdf)
- Humboldt Baykeeper
- Mendocino Abalone Watch
- California MPAs - Educational Resources
- Download our marine life coloring book (pdf)