Posted by Chris on February 18, 2004 at 20:44:52:
LOS ANGELES - A judicial panel has rejected an attempt by the fishing industry to reopen waters around California's Channel Islands that were designated last year as one of the largest no-fishing zones in the country.
A three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a lower court's decision, saying studies have found that marine reserves quickly increase fish populations and eventually prove an economic boon to commercial fishing.
The fishing groups claimed an "absolute right to fish" in public waters under the state constitution. The judges responded that the groups "have no constitutional right to deplete or destroy a fish preserve, in this instance, a marine sanctuary."
Nick Migliaccio, an attorney for the industry, complained Wednesday that the ban "prohibited fishing for an indefinite duration in one of the best parts of California."
Though the area will remain indefinitely off-limits for fishing, the growing fish population within it will eventually spread to other regions where fishing is allowed, said Drew Caputo, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The California Fish and Game Commission voted in 2002 to create the 175-square-mile network of marine reserves near the island off the coast of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties west of Los Angeles.
The restrictions, which took effect in April 2003, are meant to give endangered white abalone, rockfish, giant kelp forests and an array of other species a chance to recover from years of excessive fishing.
Violations within the aquatic preserve will carry fines of up to $1,000 and a year in jail.
The nation's largest marine reserves are in the waters off the Florida Keys and the northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
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