Campus Point State Marine Conservation Area
Campus Point State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) is a marine protected area that protects the waters along and off the coast of the University of California, Santa Barbara, the student community of Isla Vista, and the University’s Coal Oil Point Reserve. The SMCA covers 10.51 square miles, including Goleta Point (also known as "Campus Point"). The marine protected areas protect natural habitats and marine life by prohibiting or limiting removal of wildlife from within their boundaries. Campus Point SMCA prohibits the take of all living marine resources except for take pursuant to operation and maintenance of artificial structures inside the conservation area per any required federal, state and local permits, or as otherwise authorized by the department.
Campus Point SMCA is one of 36 marine protected areas adopted by the California Fish and Game Commission in December, 2010 during the third phase of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative. The MLPAI is a collaborative public process to create a statewide network of protected areas along California’s coastline. The south coast’s new marine protected areas were designed by local divers, fishermen, conservationists and scientists who comprised the South Coast Regional Stakeholder Group. Their job was to design a network of protected areas that would preserve sensitive sea life and habitats while enhancing recreation, study and education opportunities. The south coast marine protected areas went into effect in 2012.
Campus Point SMCA is a marine protected area that protects the waters along and off the coast of the University of California, Santa Barbara, the student community of Isla Vista, and the University’s Coal Oil Point Reserve.
Habitat and wildlife
Campus Point SMCA is designed to protect habitat and species diversity. This SMCA represents and protects a wide diversity of habitat types including eelgrass, surfgrass, kelp, rocky reefs, shallow subtidal, rocky intertidal, oil seeps, sand, and the estuarine inputs of Devereux Slough.
Recreation and nearby attractions
The scenic University of California, Santa Barbara is a coastal attraction of its own, featuring miles of sandy beaches, a semi-enclosed lagoon and the school’s world-class Marine Science Institute. Access to the coast along this fully marine protected area is available from Goleta Beach County Park, various coastal access points on University property (parking fees apply), staircases and trails in the community of Isla Vista, and from the Ellwood Beach area of Goleta. Each area offers excellent beachgoing, swimming, surfing and other beach and surf recreational opportunities. Off Isla Vista and towards Coal Oil Point, snorkeling and diving are excellent. A large open space adjoining the west edge of Isla Vista connects with the University’s Coal Oil Point Reserve, offering spectacular open coastal views with hiking and picnicking opportunities. The dunes and blufftop here are part of an elaborate restoration effort, including a docent program to protect and interpret the nesting area of rare snowy plover shorebirds.
Goleta Beach is home to the Beachside Bar and Grill, and Isla Vista offers many student-oriented eateries, services and businesses. Kayaking rentals are available in season at Goleta Beach.
Campus Point SMCA prohibits the take of all living marine resources. However, California’s marine protected areas encourage recreational and educational uses of the ocean.  Activities such as kayaking, diving, snorkeling, and swimming are allowed.
As specified by the Marine Life Protection Act, select marine protected areas along California’s south coast are being monitored by scientists to track their effectiveness and learn more about ocean health. Similar studies in marine protected areas located off of the Santa Barbara Channel Islands have already detected gradual improvements in fish size and number.
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- Marine Life Protection Act Initiative
- University of California, Santa Barbara
- Isla Vista
- Coal Oil Point Reserve
- Marine Science Institute
- Goleta Beach County Park
- Snowy Plover Program