California Adopts First Phase of Ocean Preserves

California wildlife regulators adopted a sweeping ocean protection plan on Friday, the first such statewide effort in the country, intended to establish a network of underwater refuges.

The plan, unanimously approved by members of the California Fish and Game Commission, will create a statewide system of connected ocean preserves where fishing and other human activities would be limited or banned.

The first phase sets aside the waters along a 200-mile stretch of the coast, including tidal areas that fan out three miles from shore, to protect marine habitat between Point Conception, near Santa Barbara, and Half Moon Bay, about 25 miles south of here.

Environmental advocates hailed the vote, with the Natural Resources Defense Council calling the approved plan a “balanced compromise using high quality science.” But commercial fishermen say the plan does little more than further restrict their industry.

“Just protecting part of the ocean won’t work,” said Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “We can’t just restrict fishermen. We need to address pollution and acidification of the oceans.”

The New York Times, 14 APril 2007. Article.

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