Information for Boaters

Boating around the Farallons is a great way to see wildlife on the islands.  To ensure that there will be wildlife to view, boaters need to comply with the special closures needed to minimize disturbance and protect the marine wildlife.

On May 1, 2010 new marine protected areas went into effect along California’s coast, from Point Arena to Pigeon Point. These marine protected areas (MPAs) are a result of California’s Marine Life Protection Act, a state law with a clear mandate to re-evaluate all existing MPAs and potentially design new MPAs in state waters, with input from a broad array of stakeholders. The MPAs have been designed, in part to: 1) Protect and sustain marine life, habitats, and ecosystems; and 2) Provide opportunities to learn from and enjoy marine areas subject to minimal human disturbance.

A marine protected area is an area of the ocean where human activities are limited or restricted in order to conserve marine life and habitats. In addition to MPAs, some places have been designated as Special Closures. These Special Closures are no-entry zones established to protect seabirds and marine mammals from disturbance from close approaching watercraft.

See map (pdf, 1.85 MB) for more details on Special Closures and MPAs.

For more information and boundary coordinates, visit 

What happens when boats approach too close to seabird breeding areas?
One close approach or repeated disturbances during the seabird breeding season can:

  • Scare birds off their nests, allowing predators access to eggs and chicks;  
  • Force abandonment of eggs and chicks or exposure to adverse weather, which may cause death; or 
  • Dislodge eggs or chicks from their nest sites. 
What can you do to prevent seabird disturbance?
  • Steer around rafts and feeding flocks of seabirds. 
  • Stay 1,000 feet from rocks, reefs and islands where seabirds rest, feed and nest. 
  • Watch for signs that you are too close: head bobbing, calling or fluttering; if you see this, move away. 
  • Cover food and bait, do not throw fishing line overboard and use barbless hooks or artificial lures. 

For free maps, tide books, posters, or more information phone (415) 970-5248 or email