User Guide

Use the tabs below to learn more about our organization, the purpose of this website and for navigational aid.

California Marine Sanctuary Foundation

Marine Protected Area Education and Outreach Initiative

The California Marine Sanctuary Foundation (CMSF) serves a crucial niche for California’s marine protected areas (MPAs). Beginning in 2007, CMSF launched the MPA Education and Outreach initiative, designed to augment and complement the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s efforts to make the public aware of MPAs. Through this initiative, CMSF closely collaborates with federal, state, and local government agencies, educational institutes, aquaria, harbors and marinas, and various NGOs focused on outreach and conservation.  (Link to partners page)

This initiative has played a crucial leadership role in support of California’s MPAs, working across the state to connect the public to MPAs in tangible, personal ways. Our accomplishments, in partnership with a multitude of “on the ground” organizations and agencies have received wide acclaim:

  • Installing over 200 interpretive and regulatory MPA  signs across the state
  • Developing brochures focused on fishing and MPAs for every major harbor in the state
  • Continuously building upon this website, meant to serve as a comprehensive resource library for MPA materials.

This site was created to serve as an online library for marine protected area materials. You will find a suite of resources, both physical and digital, created by organizations statewide to complement MPA  education and outreach programs in California. Please use this outline to ease navigation and gain an overview of this websites content. Most resources are available for immediate viewing and/or download and can be easily adapted to your geography.

About MPAs:

If you are unfamiliar with MPAs, start here for a background on the state of the world’s oceans and a comprehensive overview of marine protected areas. This section contains information on California’s network of MPAs, both federal and state, including monitoring, management, frequently asked questions and stories of successful MPAs.

  • California State MPAs: Information on types of MPAs in California (state and federal)  and the process that governed the creation of the state network.
  •  Science and Management: The science behind MPAs! Learn more about the science behind the design process and the benefits of MPAs, including the Big Old Fertile Female Fish (BOFFF) concept, spillover effect, ecosystem recovery and more!
  • FAQs: Have you ever wondered what you can do in an MPA or how California’s MPAs are affecting the fishing industry? Check out these frequently asked questions to find out more!
  • Success Stories: Scientific studies translated into easy to understand stories demonstrating successful marine protected areas around the globe.

MPA Regions:

For a description of California’s regional approach to the design and implementation of MPAs, click here. Each section includes links to individual MPAs in the region, regulatory information and educational resources and materials.

  • North Coast Region: An overview of MPAs from the California/Oregon border to Alder Creek, near Point Arena. Within this region, there are 13 State Marine Conservation Areas (SMCA), 6 State Marine Reserves (SMR), 1 State Recreation Management Area (SMRMA) and 7 Special Closures (SC), accounting for 13% of state waters in the region.
  • North-Central Coast Region: An overview of MPAs from Point Arena to Pigeon Point.  Within this region, there are 12 SMCAs, 6 SMRs, 3 SMRMAs and 6 SC, accounting for 20% of state waters in the region.
  • Central Coast Region: An overview of MPAs from Pigeon Point to Point Conception. Within this region, there are 13 SMCAs, 14 SMRs, 1 SMRMA and 1 State Marine Park (SMP), accounting for 18% of state waters in the region.
  • South Coast Region: An overview of MPAs from Point Conception to the U.S./ Mexico border.  Within this region, there are 21 SMCAs, 10 no-take SMCAs, 19 SMRs, and 2 SC accounting for 15% of state waters in the region.

Outreach Toolkit:

If you are looking for particular outreach materials or tools for your area or to modify, this section provides a wide array of resources. The outreach toolkit hosts an extensive resource library containing MPA outreach products developed by CMSF as well as agency and NGO partners across the state.

Printed Materials: A collection of outreach and education materials such as brochures, maps and signs. Most products are available for instant download. If a resource does not exist for your area, most templates are easily adaptable.

  • Brochures: Interpretive, regulatory and recreational brochures for California MPAs, organized by region. 
  • Signs: Interpretive and regulatory signs created for California’s MPAs and ideal for repurposing.
  • Posters: State MPA posters developed for a variety of audiences including bilingual, youth, general public and more.
  • Exhibits: A suite of exhibits for use at outreach events and trade shows, display in museums and more.
  • Maps: Contains MPA maps with GPS boundaries, organized by region.
  • Fact Sheets: Contains several overview fact sheets and MPA specific fact sheets.


  • Online and Mobile Resources: Engaging web based education and outreach tools designed to bring MPAs to your hands, including the virtual MPA Google Tours and MPA geocaching opportunities.
  • Videos, Films and Animations: A collection of informative films, videos and animations developed for a range of audiences inducing youth, coastal residents and visitors to California’s coast. Available for immediate view and/or download.

Teaching and Training Materials:

  • Teaching Materials: Curriculum based teaching materials and training guides including region specific docent training guides, learning tools for students, suggestions for consistent MPA messaging and more!
  • Presentations and Trainings: Trainings (videos, powerpoint and PDFs) for docents, educators and public audiences meant to increase understanding and awareness of California’s MPAs.

Program Ideas: Programs from organizations across the state ripe for expansion in other regions. Includes docent and citizen science programs, programs focused on recreation in MPAs and events.

Recursos Disponible en Español: Resources Available in Spanish: A variety of resources that have been translated to meet the needs of California’s non-English speaking residents and visitors.


Visit this page to discover a variety of interactive activities designed to engage various audiences in exploring and enjoying our coasts and oceans, specifically MPAs.

  • Did You Know: Learn about the unique life that inhabits California’s MPAs! Species-specific fact sheets created with easily understandable language.
  • Fun Activities: Fun activities designed to get people of all ages outside and exploring MPAs.
  • Visit your Local MPAs: MPA specific information pages containing facts, photos and recreation opportunities for several MPAs in each of California’s four regions.
  • MPA Tours and Geocaches: Explore MPAs virtually or in real-time with these exciting activities.
The mission of the California’s Marine Protected Areas Education and Outreach Initiative is to enhance MPA education through enduring partnerships to empower Californians to protect what they know and love.