Southern California moving closer to marine protected areas

State officials have sought opinions from people who play and work along the Southern California coast about the best ways to safeguard its marine life. KPCC’s Molly Peterson says a meeting about marine protected areas takes place in Los Angeles.

Surfers, party boat captains, commercial fishermen, conservationists and others all have a say on a 64-person panel that state officials have convened every now and then. In groups, that panel is drawing up ideas – maps where the state may limit access to spots rich in sea life, and where fishing might be completely off limits. Scientists and policymakers adjust those maps. Later this year, state fish and game commissioners will choose a new network of areas in the ocean aimed at promoting the state’s environmental, educational and economic goals. Fishermen’s groups raise questions about the effects of the protected areas on their profits. Conservation groups point out that some historic practices have decimated habitat and good fishing spots. And just about everyone says pollution runoff from urban areas is a key element in the way California manages the coast. With half the state’s population living in the Southland, a serious battle is shaping up over marine protected areas in this region.

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