The State Water Resources Control Board adopted the California Ocean Plan on July 6, 1972 with the latest revisions adopted in 2009. 

The Ocean Plan prohibits the discharge of waste to designated Areas of Special Biological Significance (ASBS). ASBS are designated by the State Water Board as ocean areas requiring protection of species or biological communities to the extent that alteration of natural water quality is undesirable. 

What water discharges are allowed into an ASBS?

The Ocean Plan authorizes the State Water Board to grant an exception to the Ocean Plan provisions prohibiting waste discharge to ASBS where the board determines that the exception will not compromise protection of ocean waters for beneficial uses and where the public interest will be served. The County of San Mateo was included in the Water Board’s General Exception to the California Ocean Plan with Special Protections adopted on March 20, 2012 (Resolution No. 2012-0012). The prohibitions and special conditions in the Special Protections are intended to ensure that storm water and nonpoint source discharges are controlled to protect the beneficial uses of the affected ASBS, including marine aquatic life and habitat, and to maintain natural water quality within ASBS.

James V. Fitzgerald ASBS

The James V. Fitzgerald Area of Special Biological Significance (ASBS) is located in the unincorporated County of San Mateo, approximately 7 miles north of the City of Half Moon Bay and extends from 4th Street, Montara south to the Pillar Point breakwater. The Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is located within the boundary of the ASBS.  A 5.5-mile band of shoreline including the Reserve was designated as an ASBS due to the diversity of habitat and biological assemblages, dense stands of bull kelp found along with red algae, diverse array of invertebrates that inhabit the broad reef, and the 3 types of subtidal habitat that occur at this location.  The watershed draining into the ASBS is a 4.5 square mile area of unincorporated communities consisting of Montara, Moss Beach, rural areas of Montara and Moss Beach along and north of San Vicente Creek, Seal Cove, and Pillar Point Bluff.  Click here to see a map of the James V. Fitzgerald ASBS boundary and ASBS watershed boundary.