State sets aside parts of Southern California ocean to protect marine life

California’s Fish and Game Commission has set aside portions of the Pacific Ocean off the Southern California coast that will be protected from fishing and other marine activities.

California’s Marine Life Protection Act requires the state protect economic, environmental and educational interests in the coastal waters.

Fish and Game commissioners voted 3 to 2 to do that for about 12 percent of the waters between Santa Barbara and the Mexican border. Fishing and other marine activities will be restricted within those designated areas.

The map of ocean closures is the result of a contentious two-year process. Fishermen complained bitterly about limits on catch in south La Jolla, Naples Reef, and Malibu’s Point Dume.

But environmentalists say they compromised, too – some of the most valuable kelp forests at Rocky Point off the Palos Verdes Peninsula remain open. Protecting sources of marine species helps them, and the fishing boats that catch them, to thrive.

Now the state turns to the task of monitoring the closures. Fishermen and scientists will be watching, too.

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