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South Coast Region Marine Protected Areas

After a multi-year process with dozens of hearings and meetings to establish the boundaries and rules for a new network of marine protected areas (MPAs), the South Coast Region MLPA went into effect on January 1, 2012. The law created MPAs along about 10% of the Southern California coast. 

While it’s obvious that not everyone is happy with the outcome, the process was thorough and involved a diverse group of representatives, including commercial and recreational fishermen, conservation groups, surfers, state agency staff, scientists and concerned citizens, etc.

The marine protected areas are not designed to limit access to kayaking, paddle boarding or surfing, or any other non-consumptive recreational activity. The law actually encourages recreation.  This was made very clear during the MLPA process. Further, the Surfrider Foundation is not doing citizen enforcement of the MPAs. That said, we do think the laws and regulations of the MPAs should be enforced by Dept. of Fish and Game and that it’s essential that the MPAs are scientifically monitored so that their effectiveness can be evaluated in the future.

For the past 3 years, Surfrider held several community forums around Southern California to talk to Surfrider members about the MLPA. We did extensive outreach up and down the coast, met with anyone who requested to talk to us, and encouraged everyone to participate in the process regardless of his or her stance. During that time, we had productive meetings with both fishermen and conservationists. Surfrider went out of our way to meet with fishers over the past two years because of our diverse membership and their interests. We worked hard to find common ground, but it was extremely difficult given the divisive nature of the process.

We have a blog that tracks much of that work. It can be found here.

You can also find more information about our approach and stance here.

Meanwhile, Surfrider continues to work on beach access issues, water pollution issues, opposition to oil drilling off the west coast, and other threats to the health of our coastal environment in California and everywhere we have chapters.


Regarding the pink slips found on kayaks and paddle boards in Malibu. The Surfrider Foundation has nothing to do with these tags or any citizen patrol. To the best of our knowledge this seems to be an isolated case designed to cause confusion. We encourage that anyone who sees someone placing these illegal tags report them to the authorities.

As you know, MPAs allow for the mooring of vessels or any other non-consumptive use activities, such as surfing, kayaking, diving and sailing. The Surfrider Foundation supports monitoring of the marine protected areas, but we are not in the business of doing enforcement.  Enforcement is being conducted by the Department of Fish and Game.

For official information on what you can and cannot do in the MPAs see the information on the Department of Fish and Game’s page here: