Task force to decide on marine protected areas in Point Dume, Palos Verdes, Laguna

The state's wrapping up a months-long process for selecting marine protected areas along the coast from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border. At a meeting near L.A. International Airport Tuesday, a blue ribbon task force will decide which plans to forward to state commissioners.

Late last month, the task force took up three plans from interested Southern Californians. One favored keeping the most waters possible for commercial fishing. Another heavily restricted fishing in popular areas in the name of ecosystem recovery. A third plan compromised between the two.

The task force delayed its decision. Since then it’s sought more compromise among what are called consumptive interests – kayak fishermen and sport fishing boat captains – and conservation groups like Heal the Bay.

Point Dume in Malibu, the Palos Verdes peninsula, and Laguna Beach are the places fishermen and scientists are fighting hardest over. The federal Marine Life Protection Act says the point of protected areas is to serve California's economic, educational, and environmental needs using the best available science about ways to do that. Whatever decision the task force makes is likely to stick – Sacramento fish and game commissioners have upheld the plans two task forces elsewhere in the state have brought to them.

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