On January 1, southern California will celebrate the grand opening of a series of underwater parks that stretches from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border. The parks will join a growing statewide network called for under California's landmark ocean protection law, the Marine Life Protection Act. Soon, the state will have a system of "marine protected areas" dotting the coast like a string of pearls, and protecting iconic areas like Point Reyes, Big Sur, and La Jolla.
The new south coast marine protected areas were planned by local residents. Tens of thousands of southern Californians weighed in to urge the protection of beloved kelp forests, rocky reefs and coral gardens. This unprecedented public input was made possible by the hard work of dozens of ocean organizations.
“Southern California's quality of life - and many of its jobs and businesses - rely on our coast and ocean. These protections can not come soon enough,” said Kaitilin Gaffney of Ocean Conservancy. “Global scientific consensus supports both the economic and environmental pay-offs of marine protected areas.”
“Thousands of south coast residents participated in the planning process for these marine protected areas, and dozens of community efforts are already underway to support education, research, and outreach needs,” said Karen Garrison of Natural Resources Defense Council.
The network was designed to protect sea life and habitats at biodiversity hot spots while leaving nearly 90 percent of the coast open for fishing. The new protected areas will improve access for recreation, study and education while boosting the overall health of California’s ocean.
The Southern California CoastFrom the chilly waters off the Gaviota coast to the kelp-lined beaches of San Diego County, the region's most productive underwater areas will receive new protections, ensuring that future generations of divers, fishermen, kayakers and tidepoolers can enjoy thriving sea life.
Stretching from Point Conception to the Mexican border, the new south coast marine protected areas include south La Jolla, Laguna Beach, Point Dume, Naples Reef and Catalina Island.
Restoring Coastal HabitatsThe idyllic surface of our coastal waters masks growing problems. Over time, we have seen our marine environment steadily decline as a result of unwise coastal development, urban runoff, and overuse. These pressures have reduced the bounty of Southern Californias waters to a fraction of what our grandfathers knew.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are a simple and urgently needed way to ensure future generations will inherit the same incredible coastal resources we have enjoyed. Like underwater parks, they preserve sensitive plants and animals while allowing people to experience a healthier marine environment. Southern California's new marine protected areas and reserves will be scientifically monitored and evaluated by state and local marine scientists for their effectiveness.
- Slide Show: Explore Southern California's New MPAs
- See Press Coverage of New South Coast MPAs
- Follow The Pacific Ocean on Twitter
- Like CalOceans on Facebook
- View maps of Southern California's MPAs
- Watch the Trailer to MPA Documentary "Inside the Lines"
- Learn about Southern California's sea creatures
- Download our South Coast press kit
- Learn more about our South Coast partners
- Learn More About California's MPAs - Resources for Educators
- Volunteer with Heal the Bay's MPA Watch
- Download our marine life coloring book (pdf)