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Risk, Public Safety & Rescue Skis at Mavericks

MPWC Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet:

Motorized Personal Water Craft
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Mary Jane Schramm
(415) 561-6622 x 205

MPWC used for public safety/rescue:

  • Authorized agencies for ocean safety and rescue are exempt from sanctuary regulations restricting MPWC access during emergency response and patrols.
  • NOAA regulations have always supported the use of MPWC by public safety agencies for surf rescue and patrol anywhere in the sanctuary and at any time of the year. The agencies are free to recruit, train, certify and supervise others to assist them as they deem necessary within the sanctuary.
  • The public safety agencies exercising public safety functions in ocean waters off Half Moon Bay are the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department, San Mateo Harbor District, State Parks, and the US Coast Guard.
  • Presently, there is no part-time or full-time professional lifeguard presence at Mavericks. Along the California coast, lifeguard functions are typically provided by local governments, or by the state in or adjacent to state parks and beaches

Personal Safety:

  • Mavericks surf break is a very dangerous area for anyone during high surf conditions. There have been two known fatalities by surfers there, both of whom were considered among the most highly experienced surfers in the world.
  • Anyone accessing the area during high surf conditions should first give careful consideration to the substantial risks involved.

Mavericks access by MPWC operators not certified for surf rescue:

  • Reducing the risk of injury or fatality to people accessing Mavericks is not a public access issue. It is a public safety issue that requires planning and implementation by trained and coordinated public safety rescue professionals.
  • Removing restrictions for recreational MPWC operators will not ensure added safety for others engaged in high-risk activities within the sanctuary.

Why MPWC Regulations?:

  • Motorized Personal Watercraft, "MPWC" or "jet skis", pose unique threats to the sanctuary environment and wildlife due to the unique speed and agility of MPWC.
  • There are seasonal wildlife breeding and feeding activities in the area around Mavericks. Federally protected local species include harbor seals, sea otters, endangered humpback whales, gray whales, and a variety of seabirds vulnerable to unrestricted use of MPWCs.
  • NOAA's process to develop and refine the regulations regarding the use of MPWC involved extensive public input; the regulations are due to the potential of this type of craft to harm wildlife.
  • In the course of public comment when regulations were under review, some surfers and other water recreationalists expressed concerns for their own safety by threats from fast-moving vessels in the surf zone, mainly MPWC.