California fish and game officials have announced that they want to create marine protected areas from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border at the beginning of next year.
Fish and game commissioners first approved a network of no-fishing zones and other restrictions in dozens of state waters about a year ago. A kelp forest at Malibu's Point Dume will enjoy wide protection. A spot near Rocky Point at Palos Verdes will remain open to some fishing.
Legal challenges have marred the process as fishermen's groups have challenged the way the state has created the areas under the California Marine Life Protection Act. Some lawsuits aimed at blocking the rules are still moving through the courts. Technicalities also have stalled the program; fishermen say those delays have created uncertainty.
State legal experts have drafted exact specifications to describe the restricted areas, and a few weeks ago they announced they'd need more time. Now Fish and Game commissioners have set a new goal date for rules to take effect: January 1. They insist that gives the state's technical experts enough time to comb through the details of the new regulations.