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California completes statewide underwater park system
Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) update: Unified community plan for north coast marine protected areas earns unanimous approval from Fish and Game Commission. Newly approved protections connect with existing network that stretches from Mendocino to Mexican border, completing statewide system of underwater parks that covers the coast's most important wildlife and recreation hot spots.
California made history June 6 when the Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to adopt a network of marine protected areas for northern California. The new protections were designed by local fishermen, divers, tribes, business owners and conservationists.
The vote marks the completion of the United States’ first statewide network of underwater parks, and a huge step toward long-term environmental and economic health for the coast. As Commissioner Richard Rogers put it: "We are poised to return California's marine resources to the sustainable abundance we all once enjoyed."
The Los Angeles Times called the new parks “the final link in the nation's first comprehensive statewide chain of marine sanctuaries.”
“We are going to reap the benefits of this for many years to come,” said Fish and Game Commission Vice President Michael Sutton, founding director of the Center for the Future of the Oceans at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
The Lake County News called the decision “a major milestone” and quoted Arcata Assemblyman Wes Chesbro.
“It’s unanimous: We on the North Coast all support protecting our ocean fishery resources and we highly value sustainable commercial, recreational and traditional harvests.”
On the Central Coast, Cambria recreational fisherman Jim Webb told Public News Service radio he's already seeing greater fish populations and more economic opportunities from increased tourism as a result of the protected areas he played a role in establishing. He praised the new network.
"I personally think it's a tribute to California that they're leading the charge in this regard, perhaps leading the whole nation, if not the world, in getting this network implemented."
The underwater parks protect California’s most iconic ocean areas, including La Jolla, the Big Sur Coast, and Point Reyes. The North coast additions include spectacular areas along California’s famously beautiful and remote Lost Coast. Audubon California seabird conservation coordinator Anna Weinstein said in the Eureka Times Standard: ”We're especially pleased because it's such a key part of the wild feel and legacy of this place.”
For more information about the Marine Life Protection Act, visit http://www.caloceans.org or http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa.