Central Coast waters to become reserves

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Posted by msblucow on April 13, 2007 at 14:27:05:

By Kenneth R. Weiss, LA Times Staff Writer
2:06 PM PDT, April 13, 2007

The California Fish and Game Commission today gave final approval to the largest network of marine reserves in the continental United States, banning or restricting fishing across about 200 square miles of waters off the state's Central Coast.

The unanimous vote established a necklace of 29 marine protected areas from Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz counties to replenish depleted fish populations and other marine life.

Fishing and other activities that harm sea life and ocean habitat will be forbidden in areas such as the kelp forest off Point Sur along the Big Sur coast, the waters around the elephant seal breeding grounds at Point Piedras Blancas and a large portion of the rocky reefs and sandy seafloor along Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The commission's action also bans bottom fishing in a portion of the Monterey Submarine Canyon to protect delicate corals and sponges and other deepwater species. It restricts commercial fishing from some waters along the Central Coast, effectively turning them into havens for recreational sportfishing.

"We're creating marine protected areas -- safe zones -- where fish can grow large and help with fish reproduction everywhere," said Commission President Richard B. Rogers. "In the short term, there will be real pain on fishing families. In the long term, everyone will benefit, including commercial fishermen."

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